Nearly twelve years after Time Inc. initially seized control of Essence Magazine, the company is looking to sell its majority stake in the company by the end of this year, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Over the past 47 years Essence Magazine has become a staple for black women. With its down-to-earth tone, and “sister-girl” sensibility, the brand has since expanded beyond print to encompass an annual festival featuring seminars, performances, and appearances from black celebs, musicians, and personalities. With a prominent feature in the recent “surprise” box-office summer hit film “Girls Trip,” it would appear that Essence is a hot commodity.
While Essence has been considered one of Time’s thriving brands, Rich Battista, the company’s chief executive, cited Essence’s “events business” and growing digital presence as a reason to seek a new investor. “A new investor might have the resources to enable Essence to expand its growing events business at a time when many publications are seeking new revenue opportunities,” Battista told WSJ. The most recent Essence Festival reportedly attracted more than 470,000 attendees, which earned more than the magazine made all year, according to WSJ.
And with the decline of print advertising, Time is focusing more on its “core brands.” “The media company said at the time it intended to focus on its core brands, among them People, InStyle and Real Simple, and TIME.
As Essence makes this entrepreneurial transition once again, the conversation about returning the company back to black ownership will likely be revived. Battista said that the publisher will keep a stake in Essence as there is still “real upside” for the brand, but they are looking for a “strategic partner with investment capital” to “unlock value” for the magazine. He said that he hopes the transaction will go through by the end of 2017. Time stock has traded up nearly 3% since the announcement.
So it will be interesting to see what direction Essence goes in next.