Shakeup at Observer Media leads to new publisher, CEO
The media company formed from the now-defunct weekly salmon-colored New York Observer after it was bought by Jared Kushner in 2006 has a new publisher.
In a shakeup at Observer Media, Joseph Meyer, a Kushner family in-law who was publisher and CEO, moved upstairs and tapped digital media executive Michael Rose to take over the day-to-day running of the New York publishing operation.
James Karklins, who was the president Observer Media under Meyer since January 2018, is exiting with no replacement named, the company said Wednesday.
Rose — formerly president of What to Expect, a subsidiary of Everyday Health, a group of health and wellness websites — said his Observer goal includes plans to “enhance our existing portfolio and launch new products.”
Meyer will become chairman of Observer Media, which runs digital sites Observer and Commercial Observer. He is also the managing director of Observer Media’s parent company and investment arm, Observer Capital.
In addition to Observer Media, Observer Capital owns Knotel, a flexible office space firm that reached “unicorn” status when it landed a $400 million investment round in August led by Wafra, an investment arm of Kuwait’s Soverign Wealth Fund. Meyer co-founded the We Work competitor in 2014 along with its CEO Amol Sarva and Russian-born businessman Edward Shenderovich.
Observer Capital also owns a handful of influential business-to-business publications under the Source Media banner, including American Banker, Bond Buyer, Financial Planner, Accounting Today and Health Data Management. The private equity arm bought the titles in 2014 from Investcorp.
White House advisor Jared Kushner purchased what was then still known as the New York Observer, an iconic weekly printed on salmon colored paper in 2006 for $10 million. He was said to have sold it to a “family trust” in 2017 shortly after he was tapped to be an advisor to his father-in-law, Donald Trump. Jared’s wife Ivanka, daughter of President Trump was also tapped to be an unpaid advisor to her father.
At the time, Joseph Meyer wrote in a memo to Observer staffers, “I will be taking over as Observer publisher and Jared will no longer have an ownership stake in the Observer.” The memo said Kushner “will play no role in the publication’s affairs going forward.”
Shortly after the election, the Observer, which endorsed Trump for president, shut down its weekly paper, dropped the “New York” title from its name and went all digital. It still publishes a monthly print edition of the Commercial Observer.
Rose was president of What to Expect, whose parent company Everyday Health, raised $100 million in a 2014 initial public stock offering before the whole company was acquired by Ziff-Davis parent company J2 Global in Dec. 2016 for $465 million in an all-cash transaction.
Rose left What to Expect at the close of 2017 and co-founded a fine arts venture called Rectangle.
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