Publisher of the Year: David Carey

It's Hearst's moment, and Carey is its man (knock on glass)


It’s the first real day of spring in New York City, and David Carey, the 50-year-old president of Hearst Magazines, is in a perpetual state of motion. He has just returned from the company’s “leadership conference” in Washington, D.C., and is leaving tomorrow for a quarterly meeting with its subsidiary in London. Even in this brief moment of rest, he’s on the edge of his seat.

From Carey’s corner office at the top of Hearst Tower—a 46-story architectural gem on Manhattan’s west side—he has an immediate view of the Time Warner building, just one block away and a few stories higher. “But keep in mind those are condos,” Carey rushes to point out, leaping to the window. “They just have the lower level. You can actually see Jeff Bewkes’ offices down below.”

Bewkes is the chairman and CEO of Time Warner, which owns Time Inc., the largest magazine publisher in the United States. For years, Time Inc. didn’t need to worry about Hearst, which was long a distant third—behind Condé Nast—in what often feels like a three-company industry. But things have changed. Hearst weathered the recession better than its competitors, and now it has started to outpace them. In March, it finalized a deal to buy 101 titles from French media group Lagardère. The purchase will bring Hearst’s market share among major publishers up to 23 percent from 15 percent, just short of Time’s 24 percent—but well above Condé’s 17 percent.

Hearst is now poised to become a world-class magazine publishing company—even the world leader. Carey knows that. But he also knows that making it happen depends on his ability to move not just Hearst but the entire industry through a period of rapid and uncertain change. “People feel like we have a lot of momentum,” he says, knocking on the glass table in his office as though it were wood. “But we know that we’ve got to keep it going. You don’t stop here; you have to expect more.”

For all of his optimism, Carey spends a lot of time knocking on glass.

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