Time Inc. CEO Jack Griffin Axed After 5 Months

Jeff Bewkes: ‘I concluded that his leadership style and approach did not mesh with Time Inc. and Time Warner’

Jack Griffin, the chief executive of Time Inc., was ousted by Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes on Thursday, less than six months after taking over as CEO of the division.

"I concluded that his leadership style and approach did not mesh with Time Inc. and Time Warner," Bewkes wrote in a memo to Time Inc. employees.

Bewkes said that an "interim management committee," comprised of Howard Averill, Maurice Edelson and John Huey, would lead the publishing group until a replacement for Griffin is named.

The move came as a shock to the publishing world, though his appointment as head of the world's largest magazine publisher was also one. Griffin — the former CEO of Des Moines-based Better Homes and Gardens publisher Meredith — was named as longtime Time Inc. chief Ann Moore's replacement last August. He took over for Moore on September 20.

“I think Jack’s tenure will be transformative rather than evolutionary at Time Inc.,” Peter Kreisky, an industry consultant, told the New York Post at the time of Griffin's hire. “He’s a total re-inventor. He’s quiet but profound.”

"It is a privilege to join this great company at a time of such meaningful change and renewed promise for our industry," Griffin wrote to Time Inc. employees in a thousand-plus-word memo on his first day.

But it appears that the releationship soured quickly. According to a Time Inc. insider, Griffin made sweeping moves to reorganize the publishing division, which drew the ire of executives within the company.

Another thing Griffin did that drew ire: putting his name at the top of each Time Inc. magazine's masthead and required all weekly magazines to run them — a move that, as All Things D pointed out, cost the company "millions" in ad revenue.

Griffin made some sweeping changes at his other gig as chairman of the Magazine Publishers of America — rebranding it "MPA — The Association of Magazine Media" in November. Griffin was named chair in October.

And it doesn't appear Griffin's ouster was due to poor financial performance. Time Inc.'s revenues fell 4 percent to $1.1 billion during the fourth quarter, as advertising decreased one percent (or $4 million). But profits ballooned to $171 million (from $79 million) on lower restructuring costs and higher digital revenues.

More to come. In the meantime, here's the memo:

To: Time Inc. Colleagues
From: Jeff Bewkes
Subject: Jack Griffin

I regret to inform you that Jack Griffin is leaving his position as Chairman and CEO of Time Inc. Although Jack is an extremely accomplished executive, I concluded that his leadership style and approach did not mesh with Time Inc. and Time Warner.

Until a permanent successor is identified, Time Inc. will be led by an experienced interim management committee, reporting directly to me, composed of Howard Averill, Maurice Edelson and John Huey. You will be hearing from them within the next several days regarding their plans during this transitional period.

This company and its executive team have made many important advances in the last few years. Throughout, you have distinguished yourselves with professionalism and dedication to your craft, and as a result of that hard work the company’s momentum has been restored.

With our deep and talented pool of employees, I’m confident that during this transitional period Time Inc. will continue to grow and prosper, and that you will continue the brilliant work that has defined our company.

Jeff