The Times Company’s search for a new C.E.O. hits the final stretch

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The New York Times Building. ()
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The New York Times Company has been without a full-time C.E.O. for about seven months now.

But a replacement for Janet Robinson, who was ousted from the role late last year, could be named before the summer is over.

"Our board has made meaningful progress in the search for a new C.E.O. and we expect to have more to share with you before the end of this quarter," said Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the chairman and interim C.E.O. of the Times Company, during its quarterly earnings call this morning.

Times corporate media reporter Amy Chozick, meanwhile, reported this morning that the company "could announce a successor as early as September."

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The Times Company, which has retained the firm Spencer Stuart to help find its next C.E.O., has managed to keep the search under wraps, for the most part. In a May New York Post report, Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz and former Newsweek president Alan Spoon were floated as prospective candidates. Last month, Bloomberg's Edmund Lee reported that Sulzberger and the Times board had "initially put together a list of fewer than a dozen candidates to lead the company," including "aspirational picks" like Google's Eric Schmidt, whose digital media bona fides were appealing to Sulzberger.

"Our new C.E.O. must have strong business and digital management skills, plus an understanding of the power of brands," said Sulzbeger on today's call, "and must be able to successfully lead the launch of products that are critical to our future."

He also said Times Company brass had met with "many qualified candidates."

The C.E.O. search narrowed in the second quarter of 2012 as the Times Company saw a 26.4-percent net loss of around $88.2 million, mostly due to a write-down in its struggling personal-service website, About.com, and continued digital and print advertising declines.

Revenues in the news media group, however, which includes the Times and The Boston Globe, improved 1.2 percent to $489.8 million thanks to circulation revenue increases attributed to the paid digital model implemented last year at the company's largest publications. (Sidenote: the Globe began the week with layoffs and buyout offers.)

Combined digital subscriptions to nytimes.com and the website of its sister publication, The International Herald Tribune, totaled 509,000 at the end of the second quarter, a 12-percent increase from this past March, when they had clocked around 454,000 paid subscribers. There were about 281,000 digital subscribers a year ago; the paid model launched in March of last year.

"Retention remains very high," said Denise Warren, general manager of nytimes.com. "Looking ahead we see nothing but opportunity for this business."

As we reported on the eve of the paid model's one-year anniversary, analysts believe global expansion will be key to the long-term growth of the Times' digital brand.

Sulzberger touched on this idea during his prepared remarks today, during which he mentioned the recent launch of a new Times website in China.

"This is the first step in our new international strategy," he said, "which will extend the global reach of the Times and expand our international audience."

There were 38.1 million unique global visitors to nytimes.com during the month of June, down from 44.2 million last June, according to comScore.