Time Inc. digital boss: We want to create the next Facebook

Less than a month after its spinoff from Time Warner, Time Inc. has ambitious goals — it wants to build "the next LinkedIn, the next Gilt, the next Facebook," the company's new digital vice president M. Scott Havens said in The Guardian this weekend.

In an interview that touched on his experience working at startups and helping orchestrating Atlantic Media's digital business strategy, Havens emphasized his drive to create an environment where bootstrap resourcefulness trumps legacy sensibilities:

“I did the startup thing for four to five years and that is where my business philosophy comes from,” he says. “You don’t have the resources. You have to roll up your sleeves and get it done. Where can you build a business, create new revenue lines and where can you attack the incumbents? That is very different from [a career] starting at Condé Nast or Time.”

These sentiments aside, Time Inc. isn't your typical startup. It inherited a load of prestigious brands — and about $1.3 billion in debt  — during its spinoff earlier this month, when it purchased IPC Media from Time Warner, The Guardian reports. Months before the spinoff, several of Time Inc.'s top digital bosses left the company and about 500 layoffs were planned in an effort to reduce the company's editorial costs by a quarter.

In the interview, Havens said he hopes to see Time Inc. sell about six times as many video ads as it currently does, which he sees as better money-makers than banner ads. To do this, the company plans on bolstering its video content — it currently has "about 50" shows in the works.

Most of these [shows] will sit online, where Havens notes there is a real demand from advertisers. “There are a lot of people selling banner ad space and supply is outstripping demand,” he says. “We don’t have that problem in video.”

The push for more revenue streams comes after a long period of waning profits. Earlier this month, an article in the Pew Research Center described Time Inc.'s spinoff as illustrative of a troubled magazine industry that has seen major losses in revenue and audience in recent years. During the past decade, Pew reported, Time Inc. has seen a 34 percent decline in revenues and a 59 percent reduction in operating profit.

Correction: An original version of this story incorrectly identified the company purchased by Time Inc. during the spinoff process as IBC Media. The actual name is IPC Media.

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.


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