Ripp Rallies Time Inc. Troops at First Management Meeting

'We're not a magazine company, we're a media company'

Incoming Time Inc. CEO Joe Ripp rallied the troops at his first meeting for top execs, saying they need to be empowered and work efficiently for the company to succeed once it spins off from Time Warner.

“We can’t really consider ourselves a magazine company anymore,” he said at the quarterly management meeting, according to people present. “We’re a media company. If you’re People magazine, your competition is Facebook, Twitter.”

There were no big announcements, but Ripp fielded questions from Fortune managing editor Andy Serwer, then the audience, on a range of topics from acquisitions, compensation and church-state issues. 

The room welcomed a handful of employees from American Express Publishing, which Time Inc. just agreed to buy (they were present because AmEx has a management services agreement with Time Inc.) Ripp said he was looking forward to expanding the AmEx titles digitally and taking advantage of their luxury market position. But when asked if he’d buy or sell other magazines, the new CEO seemed to hint that wasn’t his priority.

“But if someone offers $1 billion for the Southern Progress titles, hasta la vista,” he was recalled as saying in a moment of levity. To which Serwer quipped, “Oh, sounds like Carlos Slim is on the line.”

People m.e. Larry Hackett brought up the topic of the separation of business and editorial during the Q&A. On that subject, Ripp emphasized the need for cooperation, which could signal a change at a company that’s known for its staunch division of the two.

Those hoping for answers about the possibility of pay raises and stock options and if layoffs lay ahead might have left disappointed, but for now, Ripp’s informal style is scoring points with the troops who are weary of leadership change, now on their fifth CEO (including an interim triumvirate) in three years.

“I don’t think everything has been figured out, but I love that we have dialogue,” said one fan.

“He talked about the 34th floor, how he’s not used to working that way. He’s been walking around, popping into offices saying, ‘What do you do?”

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