Conde Nast Remakes Itself With a Focus on Digital Growth

Conde Nast New Yorker
Conde Nast New Yorker

Conde Nast is the magazine house behind some of the most iconic brands of the 20th century -- Vogue, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, GQ, and so on. But it hasn't fared quite as well in the 21st. A management overhaul effected Friday is meant to fix that.

The job of president and CEO, held by Charles Townsend since 2004, has been split into two. Townsend will remain CEO with oversight for the whole company, reporting to chairman Si Newhouse. Meanwhile, Robert Sauerberg, heretofore head of consumer marketing, has been named president, with a special charge "to move the company to a new business model focused around digital connectivity, technology development, and consumer insight," according to a release. Like other big magazine publishers, Conde Nast has been charging ahead with new digital products, including apps for the iPad and the Droid, but it has lagged behind its rivals somewhat in making digital revenues a substantial part of its business.

Sauerberg's promotion (and the chain of other promotions it triggered, including the naming of a new chief financial officer and chief marketing officer) comes just three weeks after David Carey, one of Conde Nast's group presidents, decamped to become president of Hearst Magazines. Carey was widely seen as a leading candidate to succeed Townsend as CEO. The timing of the two events raises the questions of what his role would have been in the new structure, whether his departure in some way precipitated the reorganization, or whether foreknowledge of the changes to come may have played any part in his decision to jump ship.