Time Warner (TWX) showed Jack Griffin the door on Thursday, concluding that the CEO of Sports Illustrated publisher Time Inc. had a leadership style that did not “mesh” well with the company.
While the media giant searches for a successor for Griffin, its accomplished magazine division will be run by an interim management committee composed of chief financial officer Howard Averill, general counsel Maurice Edelson and editor-in-chief John Huey.
Griffin had joined Time Inc., which includes Time magazine and People, just last fall after leaving rival magazine publisher Meredith Corp. (MDP).
In a memo to staffers that was leaked to the media, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said, “Although Jack is an extremely accomplished executive, I concluded that his leadership style and approach did not mesh with Time Inc. and Time Warner.”
According to Reuters, Griffin had been considered a polarizing figure at Time Inc. and was unable to gain the faith of his employees. It’s possible Time Inc. could have suffered an exodus of employees under Griffin.
Time, which is the largest magazine publisher in the U.S., has struggled in its battle with the Internet in recent years, with its total revenue slipping 4% to $1.1 billion last quarter.
“With our deep and talented pool of employees, I’m confident that during this transitional period Time Inc. will continue to grow and prosper, and that you will continue the brilliant work that has defined our company,” Bewkes told employees.
Griffin, who is a Roman Catholic, made some in the company uncomfortable by referring to his faith during meetings and interactions with subordinates, two execs told The New York Times. He even reportedly compared Time Inc. to the Vatican in an effort to illustrate its prestige and might. Bewkes was even forced to intervene personally, asking Griffin to tone down the religious references, the Times reported.
Griffin also occasionally made impolitic remarks, the Times reported, citing an incident where he told employees at a town hall meeting he was happy to be at a company "where I can actually read the magazine," alluding to Meredith's publication of women's magazines.
Time Warner is also the parent of CNN and HBO and it spun off AOL (AOL) in 2009.
Shares of Time Warner continued their strong start to the year on Friday, rising 0.48% to $37.87 and at one point hit a 52-week high of $37.96. The stock has soared just over 17% year-to-date.