Edward Felsenthal, the top editor at Time, led the search for a buyer of the 95-year-old newsmagazine. Since taking over a year ago, Mr. Felsenthal, a veteran Wall Street Journal editor who helped start The Daily Beast in 2008, has overseen an aggressive expansion into video, live events and web initiatives. That push is expected to continue under its new owners, who plan to keep Mr. Felsenthal at the helm. “I think that combination is what drew them to us,” Mr. Felsenthal said of the Benioffs.
Time will continue to be based in New York, Mr. Felsenthal said. And, despite speculation that the print edition could cease to exist, he said Time will continue to be centered on the print magazine, which now has over two million paid subscribers.
“The print product is the foundation that we’re building everything else on,” he said.
As an owner, Mr. Benioff stands in stark contrast to the humble, Midwest-based Meredith Corp., which started in 1902 with Successful Farming magazine.
An impassioned and eccentric billionaire, even by Silicon Valley standards, Mr. Benioff was drawn to computers at an early age. He interned at Apple as a college student, and became a top salesman at Oracle, the enterprise software company. After burning out at Oracle, he traveled to India, decided to leave the company, and co-founded Salesforce in 1999. Today, Salesforce, a pioneer in the business model of offering software as a service, is worth some $120 billion. The San Francisco company occupies the new Salesforce Tower, the tallest office building west of Mississippi.
Mr. Benioff said his decision to buy Time was motivated by a desire to preserve the title. He said he did not expect the magazine to reflect his own social or political views, which he is not shy about sharing. In 2015, for example, he threatened to reduce Salesforce’s business in Indiana in protest of a state law that critics said discriminated against gay and transgender communities.
He has since taken a stand on the gender pay gap and recently spoken out on the problematic aspects of social media. Mr. Benioff has an affinity for Buddhism, attending meditation retreats and installing meditation rooms throughout the Salesforce Tower.
“We don’t plan to be operational or involved in editorial,” he wrote in a text message. “We are only stewards of a historic and iconic brand.”