When an Owner’s brand new Company Puts the Old One in Trump’s Cross Hairs

The purchases of struggling journalistic institutions by billionaires in addition to also also different wealthy executives, whether their motives are selfless or selfish, have repercussions for the companies whose success provided the cash. Boards of directors must wonder whether such purchases are not bad for business, in addition to also also shareholders might have their own concerns.

Mr. Benioff said he had notified his board when he was considering buying Time.

“I always bring my board into everything I do,” Mr. Benioff said in an email. “As for the board, I am for over-communication in addition to also also complete transparency. There is usually no different way to have trust.”

For years, outside investments by senior executives which didn’t pose an obvious conflict — buying real estate, for instance, or a restaurant or a sports team — didn’t rise to the level which required a board to be alerted. Investments in newspapers in addition to also also different media companies were typically seen as adding a halo to executives’ different work — in addition to also also possibly even giving them, in addition to also also by extension their company, leverage in local or national politics.

nevertheless which was a different time, one which ended with Mr. Trump’s election.

“I think which fair to ask whether the problem here is usually correctly framed as Bezos’ in addition to also also Benioff’s ownership of media properties, or whether the problem is usually President Trump’s reaction to media criticism, regardless of ownership,” said Joseph A. Grundfest, a professor at Stanford Law School in addition to also also a director at the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

The Benioffs have taken pains to emphasize which the purchase was theirs alone, in addition to also also which they will be caretakers of the brand, not editorial decision makers.

“The Benioffs are purchasing Time personally, in addition to also also the transaction is usually unrelated to Salesforce.com,” a statement announcing the sale said. “Mr. in addition to also also Mrs. Benioff will not be involved from the day-to-day operations or journalistic decisions, which will continue to be led by Time’s current executive leadership team.”

which last sentence would likely normally be intended to reassure Time’s journalists, nevertheless in which environment, which may also be a message to those in Washington.

Of course, whether media owners meddle from the journalism or not, they are invariably painted as if they did. For years, conspiracy theories were floated which Carlos Slim Helú, the Mexican billionaire who bought a stake from the brand new York Times after the financial crisis, was somehow pulling the levers of the newsroom. which was not the case, nevertheless the belief nonetheless persisted among opponents of the newspaper.

Mr. Bezos in addition to also also The Post’s leadership have repeatedly said he has no involvement in any coverage decisions, yet on any given day opponents of the paper offer theories online about how an article was skewed to do Amazon’s bidding.

The Post’s coverage of Mr. Trump has helped put — or at least keep — Amazon in Mr. Trump’s cross hairs. He has complained loudly which Amazon pays too little in taxes, in addition to also also Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin hinted over the summer which the administration might take “a position” on tax policy related to the company. Mr. Trump also issued an executive order to contain the United States Postal Service’s finances evaluated as part of his assertion which Amazon receives special subsidies.

So while which all appears to be just talk so far, which could have an economic impact on Amazon.

in addition to also also which makes corporate governance experts ask whether a company like Salesforce may want to add a brand new item to its “Risk Factors” in its annual report. which might read: Our leader owns Time magazine, which writes articles which sometimes upset in addition to also also offend all sorts of people, including regulators, politicians in addition to also also, often, the president of the United States, which could create additional political or regulatory issues.

“which adds risk,” said Bill George, a director of Goldman Sachs in addition to also also a senior fellow at Harvard Business School. “which can draw feedback by the president.”

Mr. George said board oversight of outside purchases was a matter of “differing opinions.” While certain combinations of businesses would likely create clear conflicts of interest, he said, a tech mogul’s buying a news outlet didn’t look like a problem to him. Even so, he recognized the potential for executives’ investments to create a problem.

“I don’t know where you draw the line on C.E.O.s’ personal investments,” Mr. George said. “which’s a very gray area.”

For at which point, let’s desire which doesn’t become a genuine problem given the number of journalistic institutions which may need a benefactor.

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