Condé Nast Chairman Announces Retirement

Charles Townsend will exit Dec. 31.

CharlesTownsendPicEarlier this fall, the iconic ABC-TV series Charlie’s Angels turned 40. Central to each week’s plot were the speakerphone instructions of unseen millionaire Charles Townsend.

Today, there is news of another Charles Townsend milestone. After ceding the CEO spot at Condé Nast to Bob Sauerberg at the beginning of 2016 and assuming the chairman position, this Townsend, a.k.a. Chuck, has decided to retire by year’s end. Here’s the email he sent out today:

For over a decade, I’ve shared my thoughts with you at the close of the business year, but this particular moment is special to me, as after careful planning with the Newhouse family, I have decided to retire on December 31.

I’m proud to say, looking back over my career at Condé Nast, there’s only one thing I would have wished differently, and that is that SI Newhouse had enjoyed continuing good health.  I have missed him dearly these last few years, which has driven home to me his remarkable influence on our great company.  My partnership with SI, and the dedication of every one of you who contributed to make Condé Nast the preeminent magazine publisher in the world, has been more than anyone could have ever wished for in a career.  And, I thank you sincerely.

The business world is hard at work reinventing itself.  Every sector, every established company, is radically adjusting to the new economic order and the transformation to digitally driven connections with clients and consumers. Condé Nast is no exception. But we’re not intimidated by the challenges, thanks to carefully planned leadership succession initiated several years ago, and the dedication of the organization to preserving and carefully translating the incredibly powerful brands we own into contemporary assets.

Under Bob Sauerberg’s leadership, an executive organization has been formed that brings together an extraordinarily talented and experienced group of individuals who have the vision and ability to lead our company back to preeminence in the newly developing business sector. I have complete confidence in Bob and his team, and a very good feeling about where they are taking us. I urge everyone to align themselves with their vision, and enthusiastically share your support.

SI Newhouse’s unfailing commitment to magazines is a deep, rich asset likely with an extraordinarily long tail, and our readers remain passionate about our outstanding magazines which offer a compelling experience that cannot be duplicated.  But it’s clear this company must also transition to being recognized as digital-first in every endeavor we undertake; must be recognized as being a first choice for careers in digital content creativity, marketing and technology.  And it must be recognized as the leading innovator in our sector in platform development and innovative technology.

My only regret is that I won’t be in the middle of all this excitement… and it is incredibly exciting to transition this great company into a position of digital leadership.  But, know that I will stay closely connected from the sidelines, cheering you on through every step of the journey.

Again, my heartfelt thanks for your support and encouragement over the years.  I wish Condé Nast continuing success, and I wish every one of you well in your career here and your personal lives.

In retirement, it could be a little more difficult for Townsend to sneak a serving of his beloved shellfish.

Photo courtesy: Condé Nast