Big news out of Conde Nast today.
The company announced this morning that Bob Sauerberg, who most recently was group president of consumer marketing, has been named president. That means the job of Chuck Townsend, formerly both president and CEO, is being split in half.
According to a release, Sauerberg’s “primary responsibility will be to move the company to a new business model focused around digital connectivity, technology development, and consumer insight.”
The move signals a broader effort at Condé Nast to retool its business model around consumer revenue rather than advertising revenue, which has long produced the lion’s share of the company’s profits.
Condé Nast’s approach to making money had always been heavily weighted toward advertising. It was able to charge advertisers top dollar for pages in its high-end, glossy publications like Vogue and Vanity Fair while charging consumers relatively low subscription rates.
This is the latest in a recent string of executive shifts at Conde Nast.
On June 17, senior vice president and publishing director Tom Florio announced he was leaving the company to start his own venture. Two weeks later, David Carey, the group president in charge of Wired, Golf Digest, and Golf World, announced he was leaving to replace Cathi Black as president of Hearst’s magazine division.
Two other bigwigs also got promotions today. COO John Bellando is now also CFO. And Louis Cona, previously executive vice president, has been named chief marketing officer.
Sauerberg seems like an unorthodox candidate to become Conde’s president given that his background is in circulation, not ad sales.
One former Conde executive who worked closely with Sauerberg told us: “He’s super smart and strategic, much wonkier than Townsend. He really moved consumer marketing from digitally primitive to digitally leading in magazines, and that’s incredibly unsexy compared to ad sales.”
It would also seem that Sauerberg is now well-placed to succeed Townsend as CEO if and when he ever steps down.
But another former high-ranking Conde executive said: “It’s certainly not a step toward running the corporation. He’d have to leap frog someone in the family, which is not likely.”
In a statement, Sauerberg said he’s “looking forward to implementing this growth agenda” with Townsend. “These new strategies will enhance our innovation, extend the reach of our content and offerings, and improve our speed-to-market.”
Here’s Sauerberg talking about Wired’s iPad app last month with paidContent:
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