Industry Outsider to Run Random House
By Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg in New York and Mike Esterl in Frankfurt
German media giant Bertelsmann AG has tapped the head of its printing unit, Markus Dohle, to head its Random House unit, a move that could shake up the big and influential book-publishing business, says a person familiar with the situation.
The appointment, which could be announced as early as Tuesday, puts oversight of one of the world's largest and most important book publishers in the hands of an outsider to the industry. Mr. Dohle, 39 years old, currently heads Bertelsmann's Arvato Print, one of the world's largest and most profitable printing operations. He succeeds Peter Olson, a 58-year-old American.
And here is Publishers Lunch's reporting on the subject:
Arvato's Dohle Picked to Run Random House
This morning Bertelsmann chief executive Hartmut Ostrowski confirmed that Markus Dohle, 39--who runs Arvato Print, part of the division previously headed by Ostrowski--has been picked to "succeed" Peter Olson as chairman and ceo of Random House. Olson "will be leaving Bertelsmann of his own initiative May 31, 2008.
This decision was approved by mutual agreement with the Supervisory Board. It will allow Peter to pursue new challenges in the academic sector. He is in discussions for a position as a senior faculty member at a U.S. university." Ostrowski tells colleagues,
"In view of his great business-building achievements and our many years of close and trusted cooperation together, I greatly regret Peter's decision and his departure."
Based in New York, Dohle "will build on Random House's longstanding traditions and the high degree of autonomy that its publishers bring to acquiring and publishing their books. At the same time, Markus will open up new business prospects and opportunities for Random House. He will bring his innovative energy to tapping new lines of business for the company, such as the digital realm, and to lengthening its value chain."
In other remarks, Ostrowski says "Random House plays an important role in Bertelsmann's growth strategy. Markus Dohle will continue to advance the development of world's market-leading trade book publishing group through new ideas and by opening up new lines of business." In a company newsletter he adds, "Bertelsmann is not planning to exit the book business. Quite the opposite: We want to see Random House grow, want to open up new prospects for the company and its employees, and ready Random House for a great future."
Dohle echoes this in the announcement, saying "Trade book publishing faces a promising future. My goal for Random House is for us to join together in identifying new growth opportunities and tap additional potential which we will develop from our core businesses as we continue to build upon Random House's unique position as the global trade-book market leader."In his own letter to employees, Olson writes: "These past ten years have been the best and happiest of my life. As wonderful as they've been, I still have one professional dream that remains unfulfilled: an academic life. While out of the office late last year recuperating from double pneumonia I reflected on what's next for me as I near sixty--and when would be the right time to start to pursue it. With a 100 percent clean bill of personal health and our company completing its tenth year in a very strong and healthy state, this seems like the right moment for me to try something new."
Olson and his family will relocate to Cambridge, MA: "I am in discussions for a senior faculty position starting in the fall with a full-time workload at a nearby university and I expect they and I will announce my plans soon."