Dec 3, 2020 - Economy

Wired's Nicholas Thompson named CEO of The Atlantic

Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for WIRED

Nicholas Thompson, the longtime editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, was named CEO of The Atlantic on Thursday.

Why it matters: The Atlantic had reportedly spoken to more than 100 candidates for the job, which has been vacant since the company's former president Bob Cohn left in 2019.

Details: Thompson announced the move on Twitter ahead of an official announcement from Conde Nast, Wired's parent company, or The Atlantic.

  • The magazine's owners Laurene Powell Jobs and David Bradley said in a joint statement shortly after Thomson's tweet: "Nick is singular; we've seen no one like him."
  • Thompson will work from The Atlantic’s New York office. The company will continue to have a significant presence in Washington, D.C.

Be smart: For Thompson, the role moves him from editorial leader to business figurehead. His experience as a top editor at both Wired and The New Yorker — another magazine owned by Conde Nast — undoubtedly helped prepare him for the latest shift.

  • Both companies have introduced subscription models in the past few years. Thompson's editorial guidance has been a huge part of Wired's shift to a more direct-to-consumer business model.
  • "Nick is making the decision to move from the editorial side of media to the business side. Likely, Nick’s pivot sets him on a new career course," Powell Jobs and Bradley wrote.

The big picture: The Atlantic has pushed over the past two years to introduce a membership model, on top of its live events and advertising businesses. But the company, like many others in the media industry, has struggled amid the pandemic.

  • In the statement, The Atlantic said that Thompson will lead the company's business strategy, "working with the teams overseeing corporate services; advertising; and product, engineering, and growth."

What to watch: The Atlantic also used the announcement to break a little bit of its own news...

  • The Atlantic has now surpassed 700,000 total subscribers — gaining more than 400,000 since the launch of its paywall 14 months ago. The company says its goal is to reach 1 million subscribers by the end of 2022.
  • It also said that Michelle Ebanks, the former CEO of Essence Communications, will join The Atlantic’s Board as its first fully outside director. The board is chaired by Powell Jobs. Both Thompson and The Atlantic’s editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, will report directly to the board. 

Editor's note: Laurene Powell Jobs is an investor in Axios.

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