Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
San Francisco, CA, United States (4E) – Billionaire philanthropist Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of cloud computing company Salesforce.com, has acquired storied Time magazine in a $190 million deal.
Meredith Corporation, the current owner of Time and parent firm time, Inc, said it’s reached a “definitive agreement” to sell Time magazine to Benioff and his wife, Lynne. It expects the sale to close in 30 days.
Benioff said he and his wife, who are both famous philanthropists, are passionate about their acquisition of Time, which once had the world’s largest circulation for a weekly news magazine. That circulation fell to just two million in 2017 from 26 million in its heyday on account of the advent of digital media.
“We’re investing in a company with tremendous impact on the world, one that is also an incredibly strong business,” said Benioff. “That’s what we’re looking for when we invest as a family.”
The Benioffs are also optimistic about Time’s large audience and growing video business. “The power of Time is its unique story telling of the people and issues that affect us all and connect us all,” said Mrs. Benioff.
Meredith made it clear, however, that the sale of the iconic 95 year-old weekly magazine, is unrelated to Salesforce. It said the Benioffs “will not be involved in the day-to-day operations or journalistic decisions.”
It said it plans to use the money from the sale to pay down its massive debt, with the goal of cutting this debt by $1 billion during the upcoming fiscal year. Meredith reported a net debt of $2.7 billion as of June 30.
Meredith also wants to sell other Time Inc. publications such as Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Money so it can focus on brands serving its core audience of American women. The company expects to announce agreements for these sales “in the near future.”
The Benioffs, who are staunch Democrats, are also among the most giving of philanthropists. They’ve been recognized as top philanthropists by Forbes’ America’s 50 Top Giver list in 2015, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Philanthropy 50 list in 2010, 2014 and 2015.
In 2000, Marc Benioff established the “1-1-1 model,” in which Salesforce contributes one percent of the product, one percent of equity, and one percent of employee hours back to the communities it serves globally. More than 700 business firms have adopted this model.
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