Meredith Corporation is the company that owns TIME magazine, as well as a plethora of other magazines like Fortune, Money, Sports Illustrated, People, and many more. Recently, it came out that Salesforce billionaire Marc Benioff was preparing an offer to buy off one of the TIME Inc magazines Meredith was looking to unload: TIME, Fortune, Money, Sports Illustrated, or possibly a combination of those four. As it turns out, Benioff is indeed buying up TIME for $190 million in cash, but the question remains what will happen to those other three titles.
A recent Recode story speculates a "best case scenario" for TIME magazine that's reminiscent of what Amazon's Jeff Bezos did for The Washington Post:
"We'll hear and see what Benioff does with Time over the coming months. The best-case scenario is a Bezos/Washington Post scenario, where he reinvigorates the aging property with a combination of money, aggressive growth goals and a relatively hands-off approach. The downside: Even a billionaire may be frustrated at how difficult it is to turn around a property that peaked decades ago."
How difficult? You never know these days when a formerly stagnant property becomes newly hot stuff, but for the time being, recent revenue figures for formerly lucrative print institutions are not particularly sunny. Take Sports Illustrated ("please!," its current owners might say), a former powerhouse that still has plenty of popular familiarity and a decent sized cultural footprint. Here are some revenue figures for the last three years, via the property's bankers at Houlihan Lokey:
-2015: $239 million
-2016: $212.3 million
-2017: $184.8 million
That's a steady decline, and unfortunately par for the course in most of the magazine industry these days. Meredith Corp is reportedly seeking out $150 million for its Sports Illustrated holdings, but so far no Benioff or Bezos-like figures have stepped up to the plate.