FORTUNE — Well, we’re not being sold. But we’re also not going to be part of Time Warner anymore either.
Time Warner (TWX) this evening announced that it plans to spin off its Time Inc. magazine unit, which includes Fortune, after sales talks with Meredith Corp. (MDP) collapsed. Lots of unanswered questions right now, with these three at top of mind:
1. How much of the independent Time Inc. does Time Warner plan to retain? Remember, this is a spin-out rather than a sale. That almost certainly means that the parent company likely will hold onto an ownership percentage (plus flip some over to shareholders, depending on the structure). Should be interesting to see, given that the parent company has basically implied that its magazines are more valuable as a tax deduction than as a going concern.
2. New name? Will Time Warner have the audacity to retain the “Time” name? After all, the flagship magazine is being spun out as part of this transaction. Perhaps Turner Warner? Or Printless Corp?
3. Who will lead? Laura Lang, who was brought in just 15 months ago to run Time Inc., isn’t going to be part of the spin-out. In a letter to employees, she wrote: “The planned spin-off has also made me reflect on what is the best path for me and the company going forward. After considerable thought, I have decided that taking the company through a transition to the public markets is not where my passion lies.” To me, the real key will be to find a new leader who not only pays lip service to digital, but actually knows how to make the integration work on both the business and editorial sides.
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