The company announced Wednesday that Kopit Levien will succeed Mark Thompson on September 8. At 49, she will be the youngest top executive in the company’s 169-year-old history.
Reports of the move have been circulating for months and the official announcement capped off what publisher A.G. Sulzberger described as a “deliberate” succession planning process.
“It’s the honor of a lifetime to lead The New York Times,” Kopit Levien said in a press release. “I see a big opportunity to expand journalism’s role in the lives of millions more people around the world, and to invest in product and technology innovation that engages our readers and grows our business.”
Thompson, who had been CEO for five years and with the company for eight, said he felt the timing was right to step down because the organization had “achieved everything I set out to do.” He praised Kopit Levien as an “outstanding successor” and noted the growth he had overseen in leading the company through historically turbulent times, both in terms of the economic forces buffeting media and the news the Times has covered. “There’s nothing that makes me more proud than the fact that our newsroom is substantially larger today than when I joined,” he said. “The world needs Times journalism now more than ever.”
Kopit Levien joined the Times Co. in 2013 as head of advertising, earning promotions to chief revenue officer and then chief operating officer. Before the Times, she spent more than five years at Forbes, where she held various roles, including publisher and chief revenue officer.
As Times Co. COO, Kopit Levien was responsible for the company’s digital product efforts, an area that has seen dramatic growth. In May, the company said it had signed up 587,000 digital subscribers in the first quarter. It now has 5.8 million total subscribers, a tally that rose 5% in the most recent quarter, and is among the few traditional print outlets to manage the feat of successfully charging for its various editorial products.
Thompson, however, gave a sobering outlook for advertising in reporting financial results to Wall Street in May. He said COVID-19 and related economic pressures will send advertising revenue in the second quarter down between 50% and 55% compared with 2019 levels, with “limited visibility beyond that.”