Salesforce.com Inc. founder Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne agreed to acquire Time magazine from Meredith Corp. for $190 million in cash, joining Jeff Bezos among tech billionaires buying venerable print publications.
Benioff, who has a net worth of $6.5 billion, serves as the co-chief executive officer of Salesforce, but the deal is unrelated to the tech company, according to a statement Sunday. The Benioffs are buying the media brand personally.
The move thrusts the brash 53-year-old entrepreneur, who helped lead the shift of software to an on-demand model, into a new role: media baron. The transaction is reminiscent of Bezos’s $250 million acquisition of Washington Post in 2013. That purchase brought Bezos a well-respected, 140-year-old newspaper but also put him in the cross hairs of President Donald Trump, who has called the Post an “expensive lobbyist” for Amazon.com Inc.
“We are honored to be the caretakers of one of the world’s most important media companies and iconic brands,” the Benioffs said in the statement. “Time has always been a trusted reflection of the state of the world, and reminds us that business is one of the greatest platforms for change.”
Meredith, known for publications such as Better Homes & Gardens, acquired Time as part of its $1.8 billion takeover of Time Inc. in January. But it soon put some of the business’s biggest titles up for sale, including Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Time itself.
Meredith said on Sunday that deals for the other titles are expected in “the near future.”
The Time deal is slated to close in the next 30 days. The Benioffs said they won’t be involved in day-to-day operations or journalistic decisions. They also plan to keep Time’s current leadership team in charge.
Time, founded in 1923, has contended with a decline in print advertising in recent years. But it continues to reach a total of more than 100 million readers in print and online. Its special editions, including Person of the Year, also remain closely watched releases.
Meredith has said they’re selling Fortune, Sports Illustrated and Time because they have different audiences and advertisers than most of their other magazines — a collection that focuses on entertainment, food, lifestyle, home, parenting, beauty and fashion.
“Time has been at the forefront of the most significant events and impactful stories that shape our global conversation,” Meredith CEO Tom Harty said. “We know Time will continue to succeed and is in good hands with the Benioffs.”