Bob Sauerberg, who spent 18 years at Condé Nast and became CEO in 2016, will be leaving his post to make way for a new leader who will oversee both domestic and international operations.
The move comes as traditional publishers grapple with shifts in consumer habit and ongoing digital disruption. Sauerberg’s exit is more directly tied to an effort by the media company to unify its traditionally sprawling international ranks and become a global enterprise. He plans stay in the corner office until a search is completed for what the company described as “a CEO with global experience.”
Condé Nast, home of The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Vogue, has been among the many traditional media players continually trimming expenses. It recently announced that Glamour would halt regular print publication to focus its efforts online, and leased some of the floors it originally occupied at its 1 World Trade Center headquarters.
One of Sauerberg’s major areas of concentration has been video production by Condé Nast Entertainment, which was led until last summer by former TV executive Dawn Ostroff. While some of CNE’s projects were in the film and TV arenas, its main focus has been generating online video, which has become a crowded and difficult space, with Facebook and Google grabbing an outsized share of the advertising pie. Ostroff left her post to become chief content officer at Spotify. She was replaced by Oren Katzeff.
Here is the staff memo about Sauerberg sent this morning by Jonathan Newhouse and Steve Newhouse:
To All Employees:
Condé Nast and Condé Nast International have been deeply immersed this year in refining growth strategies, accelerating innovation and developing the right organizational structures to meet the rapidly evolving media landscape. We are excited about these efforts and are confident that Condé Nast has the extraordinary brands, the creative and business intelligence, the resources, and, above all, the talent to succeed–both creatively and financially.
What has become clear is that our aspirations are no longer best served by our historical structure of running two separate companies. Our brands have worldwide influence and impact, and our business is increasingly becoming more global, as we continue to innovate in video, agency, conferences, consumer products, data and other brand-aligned projects. We have concluded that the time is right for us to combine our U.S. and international companies to realize the full potential of Condé Nast for our audiences and our business partners.
As a consequence of this decision, we have launched an outside search for a CEO with global experience to run Condé Nast. After the global CEO is hired, Jonathan Newhouse will become Chairman of the Board of Directors and will relinquish his position as CEO of Condé Nast International. Bob Sauerberg will continue as CEO of Condé Nast/U.S. until the transition is completed, and then will leave to pursue other opportunities, including his representation of Advance on the board of Reddit. Other members of senior operating management of both companies, including Wolfgang Blau, president of the international division, will remain in their positions. During the transition, the company expects to conduct business as usual and will continue to pursue its strategic plans and growth initiatives. It is planned that the company will continue to operate out of its headquarters in New York and London.
Bob Sauerberg has helped steer Condé Nast through a time of enormous transformation in his distinguished 18-year career at the company. As CEO for the past eight years, he strengthened Condé Nast’s core brands and extended them deeply into digital video, data and experiences–tripling the audiences across the company’s titles and creating experiences that consumers are willing to pay for online. In 2011, Bob launched Condé Nast Entertainment, which has grown into a production and distribution studio that produces digital video content averaging over a billion views a month and has released four feature films and several television series. Under his leadership, the company has earned more National Magazine Awards than any competitor, five Pulitzer Prizes, an Emmy Award, a Peabody nomination, and multiple Academy Award nominations for its short-form digital content. We are truly grateful to Bob for all his significant accomplishments, and for his willingness to lead the company through the transition.
Looking forward, the shift to one global company will help us realize our ambition to deliver the highest quality journalism, experiences and value to our audiences, advertisers and partners on all platforms by allowing us to more quickly transform ourselves to address their evolving needs and by enhancing the collaboration between colleagues around the world.
Thanks to all of you for your continued energy and focus as we embark on an exciting next chapter for Condé Nast.
Jonathan Newhouse and Steve Newhouse
on behalf of the Condé Nast Board of Directors