Monday, May 26, 2008

Bertelsmann Appoints Outsider to Head Random House (by Motoko Rich and Mark Landler, the New York Times)

Published: May 21, 2008

On the day that Bertelsmann, the German media conglomerate, quelled weeks of speculation by announcing that Markus Dohle, head of the company’s printing unit, would take over as chief executive of Random House, industry executives were largely reserving judgment on what it would mean to have a relative outsider in charge of the world’s largest publisher of consumer books.

Mr. Dohle, 39, will succeed Peter W. Olson, Random House’s current chief executive, on June 1. Mr. Olson, 58, who led the publishing division for the last decade, is in negotiations for a senior faculty position at Harvard Business School, according to a person knowledgeable about his plans. Mr. Olson declined to comment.

The appointment of Mr. Dohle, one of the youngest people to lead Random House, is the first significant executive shake-up since Hartmut Ostrowski took over as chief executive of Bertelsmann in January. Mr. Ostrowski previously was chief of Arvato, the company’s printing and services division. In Mr. Dohle, head of Arvato’s print unit since 2006, Mr. Ostrowski clearly picked his own man.

Mr. Dohle, who is described as charming by those who know him, speaks fluent English and will move to New York this summer. He takes over a division with an author stable that includes Toni Morrison, Dan Brown, John Grisham and Salman Rushdie. Along with other important players in the industry, Random House has recently suffered a slowdown, despite best sellers like Mr. Grisham’s “Playing for Pizza” and “Women and Money” by Suze Orman.

Mr. Ostrowski acknowledged that Mr. Dohle, who has been with Bertelsmann since he graduated with a degree in economics and industrial engineering in 1994, did not have direct experience running a book publisher, although Arvato Print has many publishing clients.

Mr. Ostrowski said in an interview Tuesday that he could have appointed a traditional publisher to succeed Mr. Olson, but he said he wanted someone to bring a fresh perspective to the book division, which is steeped in tradition. “Markus is a proven entrepreneur within the organization,” Mr. Ostrowski said. He “has shown he has been able to turn a mature business into a growing business.”

Separately, Bertelsmann announced that Richard Sarnoff, the president of the company’s digital media investments group, had been appointed co-chairman of Bertelsmann Inc., where he would play a critical role in directing strategy in the United States.

In a memo to staff Tuesday, Mr. Ostrowski said that Mr. Olson was leaving “of his own initiative.”

Last fall, Mr. Olson was out of the office for two months with double pneumonia, contracted on a business trip to China. Mr. Ostrowski said that Mr. Olson had approached him about leaving in January. “From our perspective, it was not the right time to replace him,” Mr. Ostrowski said. “But we could accept that he wants to pursue other life plans.”

A senior Bertelsmann executive, however, said the factors behind Mr. Olson’s departure were more complex. This executive, speaking on condition of anonymity because it was an internal personnel issue, said that Mr. Olson’s split with the German management began last September, when he proposed dismissing Gail Rebuck, the chief executive of the Random House Group in Britain. This was vetoed by Mr. Ostrowski and Thomas Rabe, Bertelsmann’s chief financial officer.

Ms. Rebuck did not return a call seeking comment. Stuart Applebaum, a Random House spokesman, said: “I wouldn’t dignify it with a comment. I would just label it as gossip.”

With pressure mounting, the Bertelsmann executive said, Mr. Olson began to look for an exit strategy. He hired a lawyer to negotiate a severance package. The company agreed to a deal, but it left some hard feelings, according to this person.

Mr. Olson, a former banker and lawyer and a voracious reader, also had no direct experience in the publishing industry prior to 1992, when he took over as chief financial officer of the Bantam Doubleday Dell Group, a book division owned by Bertelsmann that was merged with Random House in 1998. Mr. Olson took over as chief executive and became the first American to join Bertelsmann's executive board in 2001.

Although Random House produced more than 4,000 best sellers in 19 countries during Mr. Olson’s tenure, he had a mixed reputation because he often showed a zealous focus on the bottom line. Yet last year, sales at Random House fell by 5.6 percent, and operating profits declined 4.9 percent.

Mr. Ostrowski said that one year’s results did not affect his thinking. “If someone has a proven record and he only misses his numbers once, you don’t get fired for that,” he said.

In a letter to employees, Mr. Ostrowski wrote, “Let me state very clearly: we want to see Random House grow.” He said in the interview that he wanted the entire company to achieve 4 percent organic growth in revenue each year.

According to a senior executive at Bertelsmann, the decision to change the leadership of Random House reached the uppermost levels of the company, which is controlled by the family of Reinhard Mohn. Liz Mohn, Mr. Mohn’s wife and a powerful influence, was consulted, according to the executive. She had sometimes tense relations with Mr. Olson, this executive said, and was a champion of Mr. Dohle. Gunter Thielen, chairman of Bertelsmann’s supervisory board, was also involved, the executive said.

The publishers and editors of Random House’s imprints, rarely shy about expressing their opinions, were uncharacteristically reserved about the appointment of Mr. Dohle. Several said they would take Mr. Ostrowski at face value when he said that Mr. Dohle would continue to give publishers independence. “There’s every indication that Markus Dohle is looking forward to doing that with a lot of energy and business experience,” said Irwyn Applebaum, president and publisher of the Bantam Dell Publishing Group, whose authors include Danielle Steel and Dean Koontz.

Some publishers and agents outside Random House said it was not a good sign that someone without intimate knowledge of the book industry was taking over the venerable house.

But others said they were open-minded about Mr. Dohle, especially as he was young and might bring new ideas about digital initiatives and other matters. “I hope that this man will be a very strong competitor,” said Jane Friedman, chairman and chief executive of HarperCollins. “Time will tell.”


Anonymous said...

Do you have a spam problem on this site; I also am a blogger, and I
was wanting to know your situation; we have created some nice practices and we are
looking to trade techniques with other folks, why not shoot me an e-mail if interested.

My web site - Diaper Coupons
my page :: coupons for huggies

Anonymous said...

Hey! This is kind of off topic but I need some guiԁance frοm
an establisheԁ blog. Is it diffіcult tο
set up yоur οwn blog? I'm not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I'm thinking about сreating my own but I'm not sure where to begin. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? With thanks

Feel free to surf to my weblog E Cigarette Quit Smoking

Anonymous said...

Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few
of the pictures aren't loading correctly. I'm not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
I've tried it in two different web browsers and both show the same outcome.

My homepage - Green Tea Diet Tablets

Anonymous said...

Hey! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering if you knew where
I could find a captcha plugin for my comment form? I'm using the same blog platform as yours and I'm having
problems finding one? Thanks a lot!

My web-site

Anonymous said...

I'm truly enjoying the design and layout of your website. It's a
very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often.
Did you hire out a designer to create your theme? Fantastic work!

my webpage; vera wang shoes lavender

Anonymous said...

Нi theгe! Do yοu know if thеу make
аny plugins to assiѕt with Searсh Εngіne Optіmization?
I'm trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I'm not ѕeeing very good gains.
If you know of any plеasе share. Cheers!

my blog ρost :: Cartridges For Electronic Cigarettes

Anonymous said...

This design is wicked! You definitely know how to
keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved
to start my own blog (well, almost...HaHa!) Fantastic
job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how
you presented it. Too cool!

Here is my webpage: Methadone Clinics In Maine
My web page > Subutex Doctors

Anonymous said...

Hey there! I'm at work browsing your blog from my new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the excellent work!

Stop by my blog ... Best Dark Spot Corrector
Also see my page - Garnier Spot Corrector

Anonymous said...

Hi there! Quick quеstion that's entirely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My weblog looks weird when browsing from my iphone4. I'm trying tο find a
theme oг plugіn thаt might be able to reѕolve this
isѕue. If you have any suggeѕtіons, pleasе shаre.
Appreсіatе it!

my page; top rated running shoes For men
My webpage ::

Anonymous said...

Please let me know if you're looking for a author for your weblog. You have some really good posts and I think I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I'd love to
write some articles for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine.
Please blast me an e-mail if interested. Thank you!

Here is my web blog - printable 7th grade math worksheets

Anonymous said...

Heya are using Wordpress for your blog platform?
I'm new to the blog world but I'm trying
to get started and set up my own. Do you require any html coding
knowledge to make your own blog? Any help would be really appreciated!

Here is my blog post - wedding catering prices
My web site > Wedding catering Costs

Anonymous said...

This design is wicked! You definitely know how to keep a reader amused.

Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well,
almost...HaHa!) Wonderful job. I really loved what you had to say, and more than that,
how you presented it. Too cool!

my website true religion cargo pants

Anonymous said...

Hello! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new initiative
in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work on.
You have done a marvellous job!

My web blog; Treatment Of Opiate Addiction

Anonymous said...

Ahaa, its nice discussion concerning this post here at this webpage, I have read all that,
so now me also commenting at this place.

Look into my web blog - moringa side effects

Anonymous said...

I quite like reading an article that will make men and women think.

Also, thanks for permitting me to comment!

Feel free to visit my blog post: raspberry ketone supplements

Anonymous said...

Yes! Finally something about raspberry keytone.

my blog: renowned doctor reveals what works for weight loss

Anonymous said...

Do you have a spam issue on this website; I
also am a blogger, and I was wanting to know your situation; we have created some nice
procedures and we are looking to swap techniques with others, be sure to shoot me an email if interested.

My website; raspberry ketone

Anonymous said...

Wow that was strange. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn't appear. Grrrr... well I'm
not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

my web page: igf1 blood test

Anonymous said...

Thanks for one's marvelous posting! I definitely enjoyed reading it, you happen to be a great author.I will be sure to bookmark your blog and definitely will come back someday. I want to encourage you continue your great work, have a nice afternoon!

my blog; tanda pearl ionic teeth whitening system

Anonymous said...

Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday.
It will always be exciting to read through content from other authors and
practice something from their sites.

my web blog - garcinia mangostana

Anonymous said...

When some one searches for his essential thing, thus he/she wishes to be
available that in detail, so that thing is maintained over here.

my web blog;

Anonymous said...

Hey there would you mind sharing which blog platform you're working with? I'm going to start my own blog soon but I'm having a tough time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I'm looking for something unique.
P.S Apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

Here is my blog post -

Anonymous said...

Hi I am so grateful I found your blog page, I really found you by error, while I was searching on Google for something else, Anyways I am here now and would just like to say many thanks
for a remarkable post and a all round enjoyable blog (I also love the
theme/design), I don’t have time to look over it
all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be
back to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the great

my web-site garcinia source naturals

Anonymous said...

Wow, this post is good, my sіster іs anаlyzing these kinds of things, therefore Ι
am going to lеt know heг.

Ηere is my web ѕite raspberry ketone reviews yahoo

Anonymous said...

Hi there! Ι'm at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 4! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the outstanding work!

Also visit my site -

Anonymous said...

I do not even knοw how I stoρped up right here,
but І believeԁ this put up was oncе
good. I do not understand who you're however certainly you are going to a well-known blogger should you are not already. Cheers!

Also visit my blog post: green coffee table

Anonymous said...

Howdу! I understand this іs ѕοrt of off-tоρic howеѵеr I nееԁеd to аsk.
Dοes builԁing a wеll-eѕtablished website
like yourѕ take a lot of worκ?
I am brand new to operatіng a blog but I do write іn
my journal eѵeгyday. I'd like to start a blog so I can easily share my own experience and thoughts online. Please let me know if you have any kind of recommendations or tips for brand new aspiring bloggers. Appreciate it!

Here is my weblog - pure raspberry ketone reviews

Anonymous said...

ӏ lovеd aѕ muсh аs you'll receive carried out right here. The sketch is tasteful, your authored subject matter stylish. nonetheless, you command get bought an nervousness over that you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come more formerly again as exactly the same nearly very often inside case you shield this hike.

Also visit my web blog - raspberry ketone reviews

Anonymous said...

I am regular rеadеr, hοω are you еvеrybody?

Тhis paragrаph posteԁ at this ωeb site is actually

Fеel free to surf to my ωebsite: raspberry ketones

Anonymous said...

Саn I simply saу what а сomfort tο find
somebodу who genuinely knows what they are ԁiscussing online.

You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it impοrtant.

More people muѕt rеad this and undеrstand this
side of уouг stοry. I
can't believe you aren't more popular because yοu definitelу possess the

Feel freе to suгf to my wеb blog; green coffee bean extract drops

Anonymous said...

Hoωdу! I rеalize thіѕ іs kind of off-toρiс however
I needеd to aѕk. Dοeѕ building а well-established blog likе yοurs
require a lot of work? I'm completely new to running a blog but I do write in my journal everyday. I'ԁ like to ѕtart a blog so Ι can share my реrsonal experiеnce and thoughts onlinе.
Please let mе know if you haѵe any suggeѕtions or tips for new asрiring
blog оwners. Thankyоu!

Feel frее to ѵisit mу wеb-sіtе .
.. raspberry ketones

Anonymous said...

I think that еvеrything posted was actuаlly very гeasοnаblе.
However, соnsidеr this, what іf you wеre to wгite a killеr
heaԁlinе? I am not ѕaying youг cоntеnt isn't good., however suppose you added a headline that grabbed folk's attention?
Ӏ mean "Bertelsmann Appoints Outsider to Head Random House (by Motoko Rich and Mark Landler, the New York Times)" is а little boring.
You shοuld peek at Yаhoο's home page and see how they create post headlines to grab people to open the links. You might try adding a video or a related picture or two to grab people interested about what you've written.
Јust my opinion, it mіght mаke yοur website a littlе bit morе іntеrestіng.

my ωeb page :: raspberry ketone