Charles Townsend Steps Down as Chairman of Condé Nast

by Ashley Baker

In a not-entirely-unexpected move, Condé Nast announced that Charles Townsend is retiring from his current role as chairman on December 31. Townsend served as CEO from 2004-2015, and stepped aside earlier this year to pave the way for newly-minted CEO Bob Sauerberg. As an intimate of SI Newhouse, and presided over Condé Nast during a golden age of magazine publishing. From Townsend’s memo to staff:

“The business world is hard at work reinventing itself.  Every sector, every established company, is radically adjusting to the new economic order and the transformation to digitally driven connections with clients and consumers.  Condé Nast is no exception.  But we’re not intimidated by the challenges, thanks to carefully planned leadership succession initiated several years ago, and the dedication of the organization to preserving and carefully translating the incredibly powerful brands we own into contemporary assets.

Under Bob Sauerberg’s leadership, an executive organization has been formed that brings together an extraordinarily talented and experienced group of individuals who have the vision and ability to lead our Company back to preeminence in the newly developing business sector.  I have complete confidence in Bob and his team, and a very good feeling about where they are taking us.  I urge everyone to align themselves with their vision, and enthusiastically share your support.

SI Newhouse’s unfailing commitment to magazines is a deep, rich asset likely with an extraordinarily long tail, and our readers remain passionate about our outstanding magazines which offer a compelling experience that cannot be duplicated.  But it’s clear this Company must also transition to being recognized as digital-first in every endeavor we undertake; must be recognized as being a first choice for careers in digital content creativity, marketing and technology.  And it must be recognized as the leading innovator in our sector in platform development and innovative technology.”

Did you hear that, kids? Digital first.


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