Bob Safian announced to his staff at Fast Company this afternoon that he would be leaving his 12-year tenure as editor near the end of January.
“Fast Company is a franchise all about change, and I have reached a point where it’s become clear that it’s time for me to make a change, too,” Safian told Adweek.
Adweek named Safian Editor of the Year in 2009 amid crisis in the publishing industry; since he started, he’s edited at least 110 issues—more than anyone else who’s held his position since the publication’s launch in 1995.
Safian will stay with his team through the end of its upcoming issue, but will look into other opportunities that he’s continually turned down over the years. “I consistently told people I wasn’t looking to leave Fast Company,” he said, “but now it’s time for me to explore the opportunities I’d been deferring for so long.”
That said, Safian doesn’t have an immediate plan; he may decide to leave the media industry, as he was intending to do before joining Fast Company at Joe Mansueto’s invitation (Mansueto Ventures has owned Fast Company and Inc. since 2005).
“One of the benefits of working at Fast Company is that you get to have insights and connections into so many different kinds of businesses,” said Safian. “You can’t help but open your eyes to the new ways you could provide service.”
Safian recognizes the near-constant state of change in media and has full faith in his team’s capabilities; his choice comes from personal motivations of wanting a new opportunity rather than pressures Fast Company might feel from the industry, he said.
“For any kind of media brand, the brand is the people,” Safian added. “Media companies have to build from scratch every day, and even though you’re only as good as your next story, it’s all about the people.”
When Safian leaves Fast Company early next year, the current editor of Inc., Eric Schurenberg, will become the sole editorial and business head of both titles. Any transition efforts within the company will be led by Schurenberg.
“Both of these brands have a special place in both the marketplace of ideas and the larger media marketplace,” said Safian. “I hope my team at Fast Company continues to expand their presence and their impact.”