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Charles Townsend on Steering the Condé Nast Ship

CharlesTownsendThumbEmily Steel, who covers the marketing and media beats for the Financial Times, recently had the opportunity to sit down with 69-year-old Condé Nast chief executive officer Charles Townsend. The resulting feature is perfect MLK Monday holiday reading.

Townsend, a past commodore of the New York Yacht Club who named his own vessel Current Issue, sounds like he’s describing some very bad sailing weather when he talked to Steel about the past few years at the Condé Nast helm (he came on board in 2004). Challenges come “from every direction” and the horizon is “so different now.”

Townsend tells Steel that he loves it when creative director Anna Wintour previews upcoming issues with him. He also notes that the publishing company was a little late to the Internet party:

Townsend admits that it has taken a long time for Condé Nast to develop the right attitude towards the Web. “We did it the hard way,” he says. “We learnt with black eyes and bloody noses.”

Townsend suggests that his company’s move in 2015 from Times Square to 1 World Trade Center will stand as a literal reflection of Condé Nast’s transition from magazine publisher to “digital media powerhouse.” If you’re a FT subscriber, click here to read the paywalled interview.

[Photo courtesy: condenast.com]

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