Time magazine’s expansion plans – now that the publication is owned by Marc and Lynne Benioff – start with the Time 100 list.
On Wednesday the magazine is announcing a Time 100 Summit, a day-long conference in New York City that will take place on the same day as its annual gala.
Time, like virtually every other media company, wants to get deeper into the live events business.
“This is what you’ll be seeing from us throughout the year – expanding existing franchises and building out new ones,” Time editor in chief and CEO Edward Felsenthal said in an interview with CNN Business.
When the magazine was “within Time Inc., we were shackled – and weren’t able to take the Time 100 where we know it can go,” he said.
Now it can grow – and really test its convening power.
Time has been putting out its annual list of the 100 “most influential people” since 2004. Every year is a mix of politicians, entrepreneurs, disruptors, celebrities, whistleblowers, and do-gooders. Time invites the honorees, alums and advertising sponsors to a nighttime gala with the glittering city as a backdrop. Then-candidate Donald Trump was the center of attention when he attended in 2016.
Felsenthal believes the list can live for more than a night. He described the alumni network as “hundreds and hundreds of people who form the world’s greatest community of leaders.”
That’s certainly part of the pitch to potential advertising partners. Time said that the inaugural summit will be sponsored by two blue chip companies, Cadillac and Citi.
The conference will take place on April 23 in the hours before the gala. Nancy Pelosi, Ryan Murphy, Tyra Banks, Tarana Burke, and José Andrés are some of the confirmed speakers for the summit.
Dan Macsai, editorial director of the Time 100, said “there’s definitely going to be some audience overlap” between the daytime and nighttime events. The magazine is working with local colleges and the World Economic Forum to identify some students who will be invited to the summit.
Macsai said the goal is to “connect people who want to change the world with people who are.”
In future years, the summit will be “both a sponsored and ticketed event,” Felsenthal said, in a nod to the twin sources of revenue from live events that are so appealing to media companies.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne Benioff announced last September that they were buying Time from Meredith Corp. for $190 million. Meredith took over Time Inc. earlier in 2018 and then looked to sell Time and several other titles.
The transaction called to mind Jeff Bezos’ purchase of The Washington Post, which was separate from his role as CEO of Amazon. Marc Benioff promised a similar arrangement.
“The power of Time has always been in its unique story telling of the people and issues that affect us all and connect us all,” Benioff said at the time. “Lynne and I will take on no operational responsibility for Time, and look only to be the stewards of this historic and iconic brand.”
Within the magazine, the summit is seen as the first signal to the public of the Benioffs taking over Time.
One of the first internal signs were a number of new job postings.
The deal took effect on November 1, and since then “we’ve expanded our staff by just under 20 percent,” Felsenthal said.
The transition away from Meredith has taken some time.
Monday was Time’s first day as an “independent company, unattached from Meredith’s transition services,” Felsenthal said.
That means this is the first week Time has its own payroll system, it own human resources department, its own ad technology systems, and so on.
The magazine’s headquarters is still located at Meredith’s New York offices, so the next stage of the separation will be an office of its own. Felsenthal said that move will take place later this year.