Steve Jobs' Widow to Take Majority Stake in The Atlantic

Laurene Powell Jobs - H 2015
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Laurene Powell Jobs - H 2015

Laurene Powell Jobs' Emerson Collective is taking control of the magazine from chairman David Bradley.

In a normal news cycle, at a time before Anthony Scaramucci's explosive tenure as White House communications director, this would be the biggest media story of the week: David Bradley is passing on control of The Atlantic magazine to Steve Jobs' widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, and her Emerson Collective organization.

In approximately one month, Emerson Collective will purchase a majority stake in the magazine. "I will retain a large share of the property," Atlantic Media chairman David G. Bradley wrote in a memo to employees. "Likely, but not certainly, Emerson Collective will purchase my remaining interest three to five years from now."

Journalism purists will likely celebrate the partnership, as the Emerson Collective seems unlikely to slash cuts and shed staffers in an effort to turn a profit. The organization is "dedicated to removing barriers to opportunity so people can live to their full potential," and focuses specifically on efforts around education, immigration reform, the environment and other social justice initiatives.

Bradley, in the memo, said that nothing will change in the day-to-day management of the venerable magazine. And, he said he will remain in control of the other media properties that make up Atlantic Media, including National Journal and Quartz.

While Friday's announcement was a shock to the industry, Bradley said it's something that's been a long time coming.

"I don’t suppose it would be a Bradley search if I didn’t burden it with process," he wrote. "A year ago, I tasked a small group of researchers with identifying a list of individuals who might succeed me as the sixth owner of The Atlantic. That the list soon topped 600 names raised the question from me to our researchers: 'Is there anyone you think not qualified to own The Atlantic?' But, by anyone’s measure, the top 50 names were remarkable. And, for me, from the first, Laurene Powell Jobs sat atop the list."

In a statement, Powell Jobs said, "What a privilege it is to partner with David Bradley and become a steward of The Atlantic, one of the country's most important and enduring journalistic institutions."

The financial terms of the forthcoming purchase will not be released, according to an announcement. As with Jeff Bezos' purchase of The Washington Post from the Graham family for just $250 million, it's likely that Bradley cared more about the stewardship of the magazine than about finding the highest bidder.

Bradley said that Powell Jobs is optimistic about the future of journalism, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable industry challenges. "What I loved about Laurene from the first is that her confidence was forged on a different coast," he wrote. "And, if anything, her ambition is greater than my own. So, let's make it our work to prove the wisdom of our era wrong. And, when my time comes to leave, that would be a happy note on which to say 'good-bye.'"