Condé Nast wants to build its own future

Written by Emma Hall for Condé Nast

Last summer, Condé Nast passed through a minefield in Milan. Its offices had been terrorized by arsonists and police were on high alert.

The sudden closure of the French Women’s Wear magazine was not only an attempt to draw a line under the past, but also a look forward, at a house that has seen its fair share of upheaval over the last half-century.

However, as the publisher’s president and chief executive officer Bob Sauerberg testified to the New York State Assembly on Tuesday, Condé Nast’s presence on the historical trail in Milan is still very much alive. In fact, the company is hoping that the role of the publishing house in the old center will help give it a competitive edge.

‘We are always a competitor’

“This is a prime spot in Milan — the setting,” Sauerberg said. “I love where we are in Milan and will always be a competitor in Milan, and I want to keep our buildings and our state of mind important for our employees and customers. I want to be there long-term.”

Mr. Sauerberg spoke to a packed room of legislators from across the US state of New York during a joint session at New York State Assembly’s East River State Building in Manhattan. The audience included elected leaders and the head of a wide spectrum of businesses from film, food and hospitality to media and fashion.

The CEO announced that Condé Nast is aiming to create more than 5,000 new jobs across its print and digital businesses. The digital component will be pivotal, said Sauerberg, who is hoping the company will be able to make content accessible to all audiences on platforms from mobile to PCs.

“At the end of the day, whether it’s WhatsApp or Slack or Snapchat, you’re reaching the consumers where they are — even if it’s an analytics company,” Sauerberg explained. “We want the opportunity to see how it changes the whole ecosystem of the industry, making it more attractive.”

At a time when industry players such as Google and Facebook are sought out as investment partners, a head-on battle for consumers will be one of the most hotly contested battles around.

“We can make the notion of data secure, so that publishers can reach the consumer when they want to and where they want to, and media companies can more effectively use all of the data we have,” said Sauerberg.

“The move to web-native strategies from being a legacy, desktop-centric strategy is something that we need to foster here.”

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