In her first few months as CEO of Time Inc, US’s largest magazine publisher, Laura Lang took time to field questions from many of the 9,000 employees.
Those questions included: “Do you think print is dead?” “Will magazines survive?” “Why did you come here?” “In the beginning the questions were crazy,” Lang said in an interview in her 34th-floor corner office at the old Time & Life building where Henry Luce housed his empire. She added: “This is a building full of journalists.”
Lang isn’t one of them. As the former CEO of Digitas, a unit of the Publicis Groupe, Lang helped transform a direct-mail company into a successful digital advertising firm. She came to Time Inc at a tumultuous time for the magazine industry and the company. Her predecessor had been fired after less than six months on the job, leaving the publisher of Time, People, InStyle and Sports Illustrated without a chief for nearly a year.
In the three months that ended March 31, adjusted operating income at Time Inc fell 38% to $39 million, driven by a 5%, or $19 million, drop in ad revenue.
In June, Lang struck her first major deal as CEO when she agreed to sell subscriptions to all of Time Inc’s 20 magazines through the newsstand section of Apple’s App Store. The deal fits Lang's favorite refrain: “We need to be where our consumers are.”