Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Eric Schmidt is near the top of a list of candidates in consideration by The New York Times Company (NYSE:NYT) to helm the newspaper as chief executive officer, a position in which he would guide the publication in its move toward the Internet.
According to a Bloomberg report, Schmidt is among a number of candidates in consideration for the publication, which has strong ties to the print world but has been increasingly focusing on digital, with an online subscription service and smartphone and tablet apps.
Schmidt stepped down as chief executive of Google in April 2011, though he remained on as chairman. Schmidt’s experience with a digitally-born company would likely prove valuable to the Times as print readership declines and more users move online. In the six months ended in March, online subscriptions resulted in a 73 percent circulation increase, but those subscription fees, in addition to the paper’s advertising revenues, haven’t been enough to offset declining sales.
Eileen Noughton, Google’s Managing Director of Media Strategy and Operations, is also reportedly under consideration for the Times. But whoever is ultimately chosen will not have complete autonomy — the Sulzberger family, the longtime owners of the paper, have voting power that represents a significant check on any executive’s decisions. For that reason, some speculate that Schmidt and Noughton are unlikely to sign on with the Times.
Still, the fact that either is being considered shows how serious the company is about evolving to survive in the digital era. Despite the move last year to begin charging readers for online access to articles, which has since resulted in 450,000 digital subscriptions, annual revenue is expected to decline 11 percent this year.
NYT shares have fallen 10.87 percent this year as of Friday after closing up 0.73 percent higher for the day $6.89.