Gruner & Jahr: What’s next?

Reading the New York Times article this morning on G&J leader Axel Ganz and his reasons for firing CEO Dan Brewster makes me wonder how much this situation is another backlash from the boom story. Back in 2000, when Brewster came aboard, his goals were to break the magazine publisher–always sleepy and ho-hum–out of the middle of the pack(or was it the bottom?)–and to double the revenue.
At the time, buying Fast Company for $360 MM and turning Mc Call’s into Rosie–who was beloved by AOL members, a talk show star, and a middle-market goddess–may have seemed grandiose, but so did Yahoo’s plans to keep its market lead through introducing scores of new services.
(Of course,on the other hand, getting into a legal battle with Rosie, allowing circulation to be misstated, etc. are fatal errors in any era, especially when revenues are dropping. And Brewster’s reign did not seem to right itself or recover quickly from these mistakes.)
A NY publishing friend mentioned to me that Michael Clinton, EVP at Hearst, would be a great candidate for this job. And of course the NY Post has already identified lots of potential candidates. Says Ganz: “We just need to find somebody who knows this business, who is down to earth, and has a vision for this company.”