But on Tuesday, the media company did something it never did before: hire someone outside the Lipson family to run it.
David Lipson Jr., 64, relinquished the CEO title and said the company’s board hired Connecticut-based consultant Nick Fischer as as the company’s new chief executive. Lipson remains board chairman.
Fischer did not respond to an email. He has been a managing partner for the last two years at consulting firm Cadilus in Stamford, Conn. “My mission at Cadilus is to provide a better way to manage business performance by bringing Fortune 500 finance and analytics to the middle markets,” he posted on his LinkedIn page. Fischer also listed recent stints at Betteridge Jewelers Group in the New York City area and finance director at Nordstrom in the Seattle area, along with an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh.
“The intent is not to bring in someone to make cuts,” Lipson said. “We thought the Great Recession was bad. But the challenge with this is that we don’t know when this sucker ends. It’s the great unknown.”
Lipson didn’t rule out cutbacks based on future business conditions.
Lipson’s father, D. Herbert Lipson, who ran the company for many years, died in 2017. The company is controlled by David and his two sisters, Sherry Litwer and Debbie Claremon, Lipson said.
Stay-at-home orders to stem the spread of the virus have shut down swaths of the economy, leading to declines in advertising for newspapers, magazines, radio stations, and TV, including The Inquirer. Philadelphia magazine also stands to lose revenue from canceled live events such as Wine Fest.
“Every business is threatened,” Lipson said. The company received a small-business loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, though Lipson declined to disclose the size of the loan. He added that he’s confident that the company can get through the crisis.
Fischer brings organizational discipline to what has been a family business and will help the company prepare for the future, Lipson said.
Philly Mag plans on instituting a “paywall” for its content in July, doing what many other publications, including The Inquirer, have done to generate digital revenue as print subscriptions erode and advertising migrates to Google and Facebook.