Rumors began circulating on Monday when Mr. Griffin, who served two successful stints at Meredith, whose magazines include Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle, announced that he was leaving the company. Mr. Griffin did not announce his plans then, and the company would say only that he was “leaving to pursue another opportunity.”
Measured by circulation, Meredith is the second-largest publisher of consumer magazines in the United States. Time Inc., with behemoths like People and InStyle, along with a cohort of domestic and international publications, is the largest magazine publisher in the world.
Neither company would speak for the record because employees had not been notified and the announcement was scheduled for Monday, but executives at both companies confirmed the move was imminent.
The change at the top of Time Inc. caps a fairly busy summer season of changes. Last month, David Carey, who was a group president at Condé Nast, left to lead the magazine division of Condé Nast’s rival, Hearst. And Robert A. Sauerberg, who was president for consumer marketing at Condé Nast, assumed the role of company president.
In many ways, Mr. Griffin’s move is not much of a surprise.
As the leader of a group of magazines with hefty brand names but little new-media cachet, he has managed to make sure that old-line titles like Family Circle were not left behind in a changing advertising landscape.
He has broadened the reach of the company to get into consumer marketing services, and the success of those so-called below-the-line initiatives gave the magazine company, based in Iowa, a steady stream of marketing dollars, while the advertising dollars shrank under recessionary pressure.
In the last fiscal year, which ended June 30, Meredith generated $192 million in cash flow, up from $181 million the previous year.
Last month, the company acquired the Hyperfactory, a mobile marketing company, and since 2006, Meredith Integrated Marketing, a unit Mr. Griffin created and then headed from 1994 to 1999, added the interactive marketing services firm O’Grady Meyers and Genex; a viral marketing company called New Media Strategies; and the health care communications specialists Big Communications.
In 2005, Mr. Griffin was part of the acquisition of Gruner and Jahr USA, which doubled the size of the company’s magazine business.
“Everyone has watched closely Meredith’s strategy of capturing marketing services revenues, money that would have otherwise gone to ad agencies or a social media company,” said Reed Phillips, managing partner at DeSilva & Phillips, a media banking firm. “It has been a very big success story, and it’s a strategy that is being emulated across the industry.”
Given the declining revenues throughout the magazine industry, it fell to Ms. Moore in 2008 to work on costs, and some 600 people were laid off.
Like many publishers, Time Inc. has been punished by the flight of advertising to the Web, but in earnings results announced Wednesday, the magazine division, which also publishes Sports Illustrated and People, announced a 4 percent increase in ad sales over the same quarter last year.
At the same time, the division’s operating income jumped 50 percent because of cost savings from job cuts and other measures.
Even though the company has made serious efforts in coming up with initiatives for the iPad and similar mobile devices, subscription revenue continues to be soft.
A senior executive at Meredith who did not speak on the record because Mr. Griffin’s new job had not been announced, said, “Jack has got all the skills of a magazine executive, and he has accomplished a lot, but he’s not really stuck in the present moment. He has a traditional background, but he is not a traditional thinker.”
Both Meredith and Time Inc. have brands with enormous mass appeal, but most are viewed as legacy assets at a time when consumers are increasingly turning to the Web for information. Mr. Griffin’s job at Time Inc. will be much the same, only on a much larger scale.
By deepening the digital footprint at Meredith, Mr. Griffin seemed to suggest that old dogs, under significant duress, can learn new tricks.