Guardian Changes: McAlister To Head Digital, Folwell Will Lead New Ventures

New Guardian Media Group CEO Andrew Miller is making several changes he says will simplify GMG’s structure, bolster its exec team and focus its energies on its main Guardian News & Media unit.

Among them, Matt McAlister is promoted up a couple of levels, from heading Guardian News & Media’s developer network to be GMG’s group-level digital strategy director – effectively, the new Simon Waldman.

“In this role, he will work with me to look outside the group to identify opportunities for the future development of our business,” Miller’s staff email says.

GMG strategy director Steve Folwell is also adding a “new ventures” role to his title, tasked with exploring new opportunities for Guardian-branded businesses and partnerships in the mould of Soulmates and Guardian Jobs, GNM’s big revenue generators. This can be interpreted as a search for revenue-making online opportunities that are neither a one-size paid web model nor display ads.

Outlets like have been reporting that Miller’s changes mean a “refocus” on The Guardian and Observer newspapers and websites within GMG, ahead of selling GMG’s JV stakes in its B2B assets, Trader Media Group and Emap, which it holds with Apax. In truth, this has been the case all along; GMG has always expected to exit from Trader and Emap.

Owned by the Scott Trust, GMG’s mission is to “preserve the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity”. Whilst it operates businesses in radio, property information, auto classifieds and business publishing, these are outside of the core Guardian News & Media, which they support.

GMG’s spokesperson tells paidContent:UK the changes do nothing to accelerate the timetable for selling Trader or Emap, which it had conceived doing within four or five years of their acquisition. says such non-GNM assets will be placed in an “an investment trust”. But Miller’s staff memo doesn’t refer to this. It does say that, while Miller will manage JV relations with Apax, GMG Radio CEO Stuart Taylor is adding responsibility for GMG Property Services, Seven Publishing and Development Hell. Effectively, this concentrates oversight of GMG’s non-GNM assets with two people, ahead of any sales that may take place.

In other moves…
— Miller is consolidating GNM’s own governance, from both an executive committee and a board, in to just one executive committee, chaired by himself.
— GNM digital development director Mike Bracken steps up to join this committee.
— Executive editor Sheila Fizsimons adds product development director role.
— Ops director Derek Ganon is also charged with finding a cheaper newspaper print arrangement.

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