There were big changes today at special-interest publisher Bonnier Corp., which announced that Terry Snow would retire as CEO Jan. 14 and be succeeded by his longtime former CFO and fellow waterskier Dave Freygang.
The move sparked speculation that the change would usher in a new, more financially driven leadership, and as if to confirm that belief, on the same day, the company folded another smaller, underperforming title, Snow, the third closure in the past year. (A company spokesman said the decision had been in the works for a while and was unrelated to the CEO change.)
Along with today’s change of the guard, another senior executive, Eric Zinczenko, evp of Bonnier’s Men’s Group (and brother of former Men’s Health editor Dave Zinczenko), is expected to be given oversight for all the company’s magazines.
As the company lore goes, Terry Snow, 58, started what would grow into Bonnier Corp. as a 24-year-old waterskier in Miami when he launched WaterSki out of the back of his van. In 2007, Sweden’s Bonnier AB bought 18 enthusiast magazines from Time Inc. and merged them with Snow’s World Publications to form Bonnier Corp., with Parenting and Popular Science among its largest titles.
But as Bonnier grew into a 50-title company and the publishing industry grew increasingly challenged—especially for luxury ad-dependent niche magazines—Snow was loath to give up direct control and close underperforming titles. Meanwhile, as Bonnier became part of a much larger media empire, Snow had to answer to Stockholm, where the company’s parent was based.
His successor, Freygang, 57, goes back 23 years with Snow, starting as CFO of World. His current title is evp of Bonnier’s Active Interest Division, where he oversees 33 brands including Saveur and Yachting.
News of the leadership change was met with cautious optimism at the 1,100-employee Bonnier. “He’s definitely known for driving a tight ship,” one said of Freygang. “But if this company ever needed a bean counter, now is the time for a bean-counter.”