Salesforce founder and co-CEO Marc Benioff confirmed on Sunday he's reached a deal to purchase Time Magazine for US$190 million, putting another tech titan in charge of a name-brand media property often in the centre of political firestorms.
Benioff and his wife Lynne will personally buy Time from media conglomerate Meredith Corp., which has been exploring selling off divisions of Time Inc. throughout this year.
Benioff, who recently split his CEO duties with Salesforce president Keith Block, will not be involved in day-to-day operations of the venerable magazine that's struggled financially in recent years. Time's current management team will remain in place.
In a tweet Sunday evening, Benioff said that the “power of Time has always been in its unique storytelling of the people & issues that affect us all & connect us all.”
The power of Time has always been in its unique storytelling of the people & issues that affect us all & connect us all. A treasure trove of our history & culture. We have deep respect for their organization & honored to be stewards of this iconic brand. https://t.co/OLie13YJ58— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) September 17, 2018
The deal is reminiscent of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' acquisition of the Washington Post in 2013.
If Bezos' US$250 million foray into the newspaper industry serves as any precedent, Benioff might be putting himself in the rhetorical cross-hairs of the president of the United States.
Amazon's founder has been the subject of frequent attacks from US president Donald Trump, who accuses the Post of being a mouthpiece for the e-commerce giant, and incorrectly suggests Amazon, rather than Bezos, owns the prominent newspaper.
Benioff, whose net worth is estimated at US$6.6 billion by Forbes, has a much higher profile for political activism than Bezos—he's well-known for his socially liberal leanings and philanthropy. Like in years past, social activists will join Benioff at the Dreamforce conference that kicks off next week in San Francisco.
By taking over the magazine that has put Trump on the cover 21 times, often in an unflattering light, Benioff opens himself up to a much higher national profile, and potentially more political controversy.
Meredith is looking to shed debt from its US$2.8 billion acquisition of Time Inc. in January. The Iowa-based media conglomerate said soon after that deal closed it was exploring selling off several assets, including Fortune, Money, Sports Illustrated and Time magazines.