Nick Thompson of The Atlantic Hires Wired as CEO
The Atlantic has a hectic but important year. While the media company, best known for its 163-year-old print magazine of the same name, saw cuts in its newsroom and events division this year, it has also seen impressive sales growth among consumers – not least due to its industry-leading coverage of politics and Covid -19 pandemic.
Building on its success, The Atlantic announced a major hiring on Thursday: Nick Thompson, Editor-in-Chief of Conde Nasts Wired, will join the company as CEO.
"Nick is one of the great innovators in journalism and I am very confident that he will lead this company into a new era of subscription and reader growth, technological creativity and business success," said Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic in one Opinion.
In a tweet announcing the news, Thompson said he had "read and been inspired by the Atlantic all his life," but especially during his "brilliant run" lately.
"This is an exceptional opportunity to work building and growing the business of one of the most important publications in America."
The Atlantic has been on a stellar run lately, led by Goldberg, a kind of player-coach who sometimes steps into the racket's box to break mammoth stories, including the September bombshell that revealed President Donald Trump as a fallen American soldier "Loser" labeled and "Sucker." Goldberg also oversaw coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic by writers Ed Yong, James Hamblin, Alexis Madrigal, Olga Khazan and Sarah Zhang. The publication of his editorial services increased the subscriber base to 700,000. This was also the reason why Adweek named Goldberg Editor of the Year.
In the announcement, The Atlantic bragged about Thompson's success on Wired and The New Yorker, another Conde Nast release. "During his tenure, NewYorker.com's readership increased nearly seven-fold," the company said. "At Wired, digital subscriptions have increased by around 300 percent under his leadership."
Thompson will be tasked with driving The Atlantic's subscription growth towards its stated goal of 1 million subscribers by the end of 2022. (To put that in perspective: The New York Times has 7 million subscribers.) And advertising isn't lost and gone forever: the company said it was on the right track, "despite the challenges of the pandemic's ad revenue last year to achieve ".
The Atlantic has been owned by Laurene Powell Jobs' non-profit Emerson Collective for a number of years, although David Bradley, the former sole owner of The Atlantic, has played an active role in the day-to-day management of the company. In a press release on Thursday, the company said Bradley would step down from his day-to-day role and become chairman emeritus while maintaining his minority stake.
However, not everything went smoothly for the company. The Atlantic laid off 68 employees due to the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. The AtlanticLive events division was hardest hit, but also dismantled the video team, national security desk, and Talent Lab, the hub for recruiting and developing editorial staff. Thompson will face difficult decisions to rebuild and develop these businesses, as well as expand the journalistic efforts of Publication.
(Disclosure: This writer previously worked as an assistant director for AtlanticLive.)