The man who will lead Time Inc.July 22, 2013: 4:27 PM ET
As Joe Ripp moves on to run Time Inc., some thoughts from his former business partner.
FORTUNE -- For the past four months, Time Inc. employees have wondered who will lead the magazine publisher once it is spun out into a standalone public company early next year. Today we got our answer: Joe Ripp, a onetime Time Inc. and Time Warner (TWX) CFO who has spent the past eight years leading business-to-business information companies like Dendrite International and OneSource Information Services.
Ripp doesn't officially take the reins until after Labor Day so that he can wind down his responsibilities with OneSource, which he joined in 2011 after it was acquired by private equity firm GTCR (with whom Ripp had previously formed an investment platform focused on data-enabled information and marketing services companies).
Earlier today we spent some time on the phone with Philip Canfield, a GTCR partner and OneSource board member, to learn more about Ripp and how he may fare as my new boss. What follows is an edited transcript of our conversation.
FORTUNE: Why did GTCR originally want to partner with Joe Ripp?
CANFIELD: Joe had some really interesting ideas around information services and what was going on in that market, and we had some ideas about platforms in that space, including OneSource. So we met and discussed a bunch of different B2B software and content companies, and felt we could find some things together that fit within that general thesis. We also had a lot of respect for what Joe had done in the past in terms of value creation and his ability to recruit top talent, and all of that had proven to be true. He's a great leader, and will remain on the OneSource board.
He had a prior accounting issue with the SEC, which resulted in him settling for $150,000. How did you assess that risk?
We did a tremendous amount of work around the facts and circumstances of that situation, including a lot of independent work, and were satisfied that Joe is an honest broker who got caught in the middle of a bad situation he didn't really have any part in creating. I have 100% confidence in him and the principles he operated under.
You bought OneSource less than a year ago. Disappointed to see him go so soon?
Oh sure, we're sad to lose him. But this is a very big and high-profile opportunity, and I'm not sure any of us would have imagined this was a potential job for him. But looking at the opportunity, I can certainly understand why he wanted it... One of the great things about Joe is that he helped bring a great team into that business, including a president and COO who's going to do the job for a while. His ability to recruit gives us some flexibility in terms of finding his permanent successor, whether that's an internal or external candidate.
Ripp has been running B2B platforms for the past eight years. How do you see him transitioning back into a B2C company?
I'm not sure how well positioned I am to judge that, since I'm a B2B guy and I haven't had any depth of conversation with him about B2C. But I can say that he's a very good strategic thinker who sees both the positives and negatives and is not afraid to address the negatives -- something that will be useful given the challenges that all of these B2C content providers have ahead of them.
One big difference between the Time Inc. he left and the one he is joining is the evolution of digital media. OneSource is a digital company, so could you provide your thoughts of his understanding of the digital user experience?
Again, all of my observations are through B2B, so I'd say that in B2B-land the user experience is almost always couched within workflow, or how you make the user's job easier. I think Joe is very good and thoughtful about that. My sense is B2C is about something else.
Given that Ripp is about to become my boss, what are his soft spots?
I have seen him a few times get really enamored by some whiz-bang stuff on the tech side, whether it be an app or a gadget or a processing tool, and he says 'Wouldn't it be great if we just bought it.' But I've never seen him make the wrong ultimate decision. He gets engaged, but makes sure that it gets tried out extensively before any sort of purchase. On the people side, he's pretty good with people. I wouldn't count on any surefire ways to get what you want.
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