Friedenberg, who oversaw a restructuring of IDG Communications, a global business and information company and publisher of popular magazine brands including PCWorld and Macworld, will join the company on Dec. 3.
He will report to Thomson Reuters President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Smith. Editorial content will continue to be led by Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler, who will report to Friedenberg. He will be based in New York.
Friedenberg stepped down as global CEO of IDG Communications in October last year after four years in the job.
“Michael’s understanding of the challenges facing our media customers and proven track record driving profitable growth will add significant strength to our team as we work to further monetize trusted, mission-critical news for our customers,” Smith said.
Under Friedenberg’s watch, IDG, which operates in 147 countries, evolved into a more global business information company and expanded its data and marketing services businesses.
Friedenberg, 51, also helped restore stability following the death of IDG founder Pat McGovern in 2014 and the eventual sale of the company to China Oceanwide Holdings Group in 2017.
“Michael is deeply in touch with audiences and was always immersed in research and really understood the trends in the industry better than any executive I’ve worked with,” said Bob Carrigan, former CEO of IDG Communications, who hired Friedenberg in 2005 to run IDG unit CXO Media.
At CXO Media, which once published CIO magazine, he was credited with modernizing the business and turned a loss-making publication to a profitable one in a short period of time, said one former IDG colleague, who did not want to speak on behalf of the company.
Friedenberg embodied the “Let’s Try It” ethos of IDG. “We would be experimental and we built an incredible portfolio,” said another former colleague, who was not authorized to speak about company matters. When he took over as CEO, “IDG had gotten much bigger in the data space. He drove hard in that arena.”
Thomson Reuters will need Friedenberg to tap into that entrepreneurial spirit as it seeks new revenue sources to sustain growth in a media and news industry buffeted by change both inside and outside the company.
Thomson Reuters sold a majority stake in its financial terminal business to private equity firm Blackstone Group (BX.N) this year. As part of that deal, the new company now called Refinitiv will make minimum annual payments of $325 million to Reuters over 30 years to secure access to its news service, equating to almost $10 billion.
Reuters News will have about $625 million in revenue, including the annual payment from Refinitiv and about $300 million in revenues from its media business, slightly higher than its cost base.
For the quarter ended Sept. 30, Reuters News reported revenue of $71 million on constant currency basis, a drop of 4 percent from a year ago, while adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization) fell 17 percent to $6 million.
Reporting by Denny Thomas in Toronto and Kenneth Li and Sheila Dang in New York; Editing by Susan Thomas