Time achieved its highest revenue growth in “well over a decade” last year, the publisher’s chief executive and editor-in-chief has revealed.
Edward Felsenthal this week announced a slate of leadership changes, released new digital subscription figures, and revealed Time would be making further investments into NFTs.
In a note to staff, Felsenthal said: “In 2021, Time’s revenue increased nearly 30%… reversing years of revenue declines under previous ownership.”
He attributed much of the company’s success to a swathe of new initiatives including a television and film production division and a Time-themed NFT marketplace.
Time Studios, he said, “which barely existed two years ago, has become our fastest-growing business” and accounted for a quarter of Time’s revenue in 2021. The studio is behind the upcoming Kanye West documentary trilogy on Netflix and Space Explorers, billed as “the largest production ever filmed in space”.
Felsenthal also trumpeted Time’s forays into non-fungible tokens (NFTs)– certificates that verify ownership of digital items.
[Read more: What Gannett learned from its first NFT mission]
Time announced in March that it would be auctioning off three NFTs – two of historical covers and one of a cover mocked up specifically for the auction. Adweek reported the covers sold for the equivalent of $435,000 in the Ethereum cryptocurrency.
From that starting point, the company has since rolled out a whole marketplace for Time-branded and themed NFTs.
Some of the “Timepieces”, as the NFTs are named, are inspired by previous Time covers, for example, those in the “Long Neckie Women” series created by 12-year-old artist-in-residence Nyla Hayes. Others are works by digital artists that have simply been branded with the Time logo.
An FAQ on the Timepieces Discord indicates that ownership of certain types of Timepieces gets their owners perks including virtual events and the chance to meet its Person of the Year. Notably, all the NFTs – as well as “Timecats”, which are passes that enable holders to mint Time NFTs in future – entitle their owners to unlimited access to the paywalled Time.com.
A sales channel within the Discord keeps track of sales of Timepieces. Between the start of Monday and time of writing on Thursday, it recorded sale of over 100 Time NFTs collectively worth 30 Ethereum – approximately £70,000. It is unclear what proportion, if any, of these sales go to Time.
Time’s apparent enthusiasm for NFTs is so great that the company’s president, Keith Grossman, is shifting his focus to the “web3 ecosystem”, according to Felsenthal. Web3 is an envisaged evolution of the internet built upon blockchain, a digital ledger technology.
In a hint as to why the company is so keen to focus on the next iteration of the internet, Felsenthal’s note says that “In the past nine months, our organization has done in excess of eight-figures of revenue”. Time confirmed to Press Gazette after publication that that figure specifically refers to revenue generated through its web3 innovations.
More conventionally, Felsenthal said that both digital subscriptions and digital advertising at Time were growing, with “more than 120,000 people now paying for unlimited access to Time.com”. December 2021 proved to be the company’s best-ever for advertising under its current owner, he said.
Time was bought by billionaire Salesforce founder Marc Benioff and his wife from US publishing company Meredith in September 2018. The Benioffs agreed to have no say in Time’s day-to-day running or journalistic output.
Meredith had bought the entirety of Time Inc in 2017, with the backing of Koch brothers Charles and David via their company Koch Industries. It spun off the UK portion of the company in February 2018, selling titles including NME and Marie Claire – which have both since closed in print – to private equity firm Epiris Fund.
As well as Grossman’s pivot to the blockchain, Felsenthal announced that Time’s senior vice president Maya Draisin was to become chief brand officer, and that chief technology officer Bharat Krish was to become president of Time Digital.
Correction, 14 January 2021: This article previously referred to Time Studios as a documentary studio. Time has since been in touch to clarify that it is the film and television division of the company.
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