Months after Meredith Corporation bought Time Inc. with help from the Koch brothers in November 2017, the flagship title Time found its future in doubt once again when it was put up for sale. Now, it appears the magazine has found a new savior: Meredith has agreed to sell Time to Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne Benioff for $190 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“The Benioffs will hold Time as a family investment,” Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal told staffers on Sunday night. “It will have no connection to Salesforce, the software company Marc founded in 1999.”
The family does not plan to have any role in day-to-day operations and said they are not looking to buy other magazines. (Meredith is still looking to sell Fortune, Money, and Sports Illustrated.) The sale is expected to close within 30 days.
In his memo to staffers, Felsenthal said the Benioffs have urged them to “think big, really big.”
“Beyond the five-year plan, what will Time look like in 2040? What will it mean to people decades from now?” Felsenthal said. “That’s what we’ll all be thinking about as we create a new home for Time rooted in what we know how to do so well, with the resources we need to reach our greatest potential as individuals and as a team, supported by owners with a sterling record of innovation and of building collaborative, creative cultures.”
Nevertheless, the deal will raise new questions about the motivations of Silicon Valley figures who invest in publications that cover the tech industry. Five years ago, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post for $250 million, and last year Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of the late Steve Jobs, took a majority stake in The Atlantic.