TIME Magazine to auction 3 covers as NFTs; eyes crypto payments for subscriptions

·4 min read

TIME Magazine plans to lean into surging demand for digital currency and art, currently two of the hottest trends in the global economy.

As cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) continue to explode in interest and value, TIME has designed its first-ever cover exclusively as an NFT, featuring the bold title "Is Fiat Dead?" It's a nod to one of its most iconic cover designs from the April 8, 1966 "Is God Dead?" and April 3, 2017 "Is Truth Dead?" editions — and an acknowledgement of the rise of digital currency as an asset class.

All three covers will be auctioned on SuperRare, a marketplace for digital artworks tokenized as crypto-collectible digital items to be owned and traded. TIME, which Salesforce (CRM) CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne purchased in 2018, currently does about seven-figures a year in its cover store, where its magazine covers can be bought as canvas prints, posters, and more.

Meanwhile, Yahoo Finance has learned that TIME is exploring a future of crypto and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as the 98-year-old magazine undergoes its digital transformation.

"TIME's red border is one our or most iconic assets. We already have an existing business with the cover store in the analog space. Moving into the NFT collectibles is a natural extension for us," TIME's president Keith Grossman said in a phone interview on Sunday evening.

TIME will be auctioning all three of these covers as a limited edition series of 1 of 1 on SuperRare.
TIME will be auctioning all three of these covers as a limited edition series of 1 of 1 on SuperRare.

'Project C'

In early March, TIME began exploring its NFT future by pulling together a small cross-departmental team consisting of Grossman and several others for an initiative dubbed "Project C." The project received guidance from Benioff, Mark Cuban, Guy Oseary, and Anthony Pompliano, all prominent investors whom Grossman credits with shaping his thinking of the evolution of NFTs.

"Phase one of what's happening in the NFT space is very much about collectibles. Phase two is thinking about how these tokens can unlock or provide access to subscriptions, memberships, and unique experiences," Grossman added.

And the SuperRare NFT auction is just the first step. Within 30 days, TIME plans to accept a "pay by crypto" option for its subscribers. Within the next 90 days, the goal is to provide consumers a frictionless, user-friendly NFT approach to purchase collectibles, subscriptions, and "unique access" to TIME's content, Grossman added.

"Our job is to make sure that our consumers access our world-class content regardless of medium, whether it's print, or digital, or video, and regardless of how they wish to pay for it, whether it is in cash or credit or crypto," Grossman said.

When creating the vision for a crypto-enabled future at TIME, Grossman and CEO/ Editor-In-Chief Edward Felsenthal deployed one of Benioff's organizational tools, called "V2MOM" — a framework that "allows us to focus our team on how to spend their time, how we should allocate investment, how we should allocate budget," Grossman explained.

Among a few of the goals outlined in the organizational V2MOM are digital transformation, subscription machine, and turbo-charge studios/new products.

According to Grossman, the long-term goal is to develop the crypto and NFT offerings into a "turnkey enterprise solution" for the publishing and media industry. It takes a page out of the Washington Post's playbook with its ad monetization tool Zeus.

"We greatly admire what The Washington Post has done with Zeus. We think that there is a business for us over the long term to provide support in this arena, in the same manner," Grossman said.

"I think that a lot of people within the media industry are going to be very hesitant to jump into it beyond collectibles. We feel very comfortable seeing the trend lines as to where this is going. And so our goal is is to get there first to get there fast. And then to be able to open it up to others," he added.

In the meantime, TIME is looking for a CFO, and one of the key job requirements? "Comfort with cryptocurrencies."

Julia La Roche is a correspondent for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.