Changes Atop MSLO

NEW YORK After four years at the helm, Susan Lyne has stepped down as president and CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. The company has promoted Wenda Harris Millard, president of new media who joined a year ago after leaving Yahoo! amidst a sales reorganization, and Robin Marino, president of merchandising, to co-CEOs, according to an MSLO announcement.

The move likely signals a shift to a greater emphasis on digital platforms, given Millard’s pedigree. 

“The company has got to rely very heavily on digital and merchandising and so you’ve got very talented and powerful executives there who basically hold the secret of the future of the company in their hands,” said one media observer. “The question is, what role Susan had in the additional development of the brands?”

Lyne was brought in at the height of Martha Stewart’s stock scandal and added a level of stability to the company.

Said Lyne: “We launched some great new businesses, built an impressive management team and reaffirmed the enduring power of the Martha Stewart brand. While there is never a perfect time to depart, the company is on sound footing and we expect the transition to be very smooth.”

In the first three months of 2008, revenue at MSLO rose 2 percent to $68 million, with essentially flat revenue growth in the company’s core publishing business. Publishing revenue, at $40.8 million, was impacted by the absence of contributions from lifestyle magazine Blueprint, which folded in December. The company’s smaller broadcast division grew revenue about 18 percent to $10.6 million on higher ad revenue. Internet revenue was $3.4 million, a slight decline, and merchandising was down roughly 4 percent to $13.1 million.

MSLO shares today (June 11) fell 2.6 percent to $7.77 in morning trading.