Sep 17, 2018

West Coast billionaires buy dying legacy media companies

Marc Benioff. Photo: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

West Coast billionaires in tech and venture capital are buying up historic print titles in an effort to spread their idealistic ambitions to media.

Why it matters: The deals are helping to shift the reins of power in media from the old guard of East Coast publishing dynasties to wealthy, West Coast elites with new money.

The latest ... Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff and his wife Lynne are buying Time Magazine from Meredith Corp., which acquired the publication (with help from the Koch Brothers) as part of a $2.8 billion acquisition of its parent company Time Inc. in January.

  • The deal is priced at $190 million dollars, which is low considering the magazine was once one of the most popular reads in the country — but high considering the company has lost roughly a quarter of its subscriptions in the past year as its struggled to adapt to the world of digital, according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • The Benioffs will hold Time as a family investment with no connection to Salesforce, Time Editor Edward Felsenthal said in a statement.

Other West Coast heavyweights have been buying legacy print publications from private owners that have struggled to revive struggling papers amid a tough economic environment for legacy media — and specifically print.

The bigger picture: This trend is happening alongside other changes in technology and economics that are pushing power in media from New York and Washington to Los Angeles and Silicon Valley.

  • Smartphones and smart TVs are pushing time and attention — as well as advertising and subscription dollars — away from legacy media companies to new companies.
  • As a result, talent from the East Coast is moving west in search of better opportunities at more innovative companies.

Be smart: For the new guard of wealthy West Coast titans, media is the new philanthropy. And legacy titles, rich with history and cachet, give newcomers access to the talent and infrastructure needed to build influence.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 1,237,420 — Total deaths: 67,260 — Total recoveries: 252,944Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 312,762 — Total deaths: 9.132 — Total recoveries: 15,044Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. Surgeon general says this week will be "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. Biden says DNC may have to hold virtual convention.
  5. States updates: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state "literally going day-to-day" with supplies.
  6. Work update: Employees still going to work face temperature checks, distanced work stations, protective devices and mass absences.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Cuomo says New York is "literally going day-to-day with our supplies"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference on Sunday that New York is struggling to maintain medical supplies while combatting the novel coronavirus — operating "literally" on a "day-to-day" basis.

Why it matters: New York City has become an epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, facing mass quarantines and stay-at-home orders. Cuomo said Saturday that New York reported 630 new deaths in 24 hours — an "all-time increase" that beat the previous day's record of 562 deaths.

Illinois governor: "The president does not understand the word 'federal'"

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that President Trump's comments about the federal government's stockpile of medical equipment suggest he "does not understand the word 'federal.'"

Why it matters: White House adviser Jared Kushner argued at a press briefing last week that the "notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile; it’s not supposed to be state stockpiles that they then use."