EXIT, QUICKLY: When Tom Florio lured Carol Smith away from her top perch as chief brand officer at Elle magazine to take on the food group at Condé Nast six months ago, no one would have predicted that it would all be over so fast.
Smith, who was installed at Condé as vice president and publishing director in April, was fired on Thursday.
Sources said Smith was initially caught off guard when chief administrative officer Jill Bright delivered the news to her. Nevertheless, the unhappiness was a two-way street.
“The opportunity turned out not to be what either Condé Nast or I expected,” said Smith in a statement sent out by the company.
“She made it very clear she was unhappy,” said one Condé insider, referring to Smith. “She might have been too vocal about how unhappy she was.”
Smith had grown increasingly frustrated that the job opportunity she was presented with back in April never came to fruition.
“It’s a hard company to come into at the top, especially when you step into a job that didn’t exist before,” said one insider.
Shortly after Smith came on board, it appeared she wasn’t involved in the roll out of Gourmet Live, and, more recently, sources said she wasn’t consulted about a successor for Bon Appetit’s departing editor in chief Barbara Fairchild. Sources said Smith butted heads with the longtime editor, though Smith is also hosting Fairchild’s farewell party next week at The Lambs Club on 44th Street.
It also seems that unless your name is Bill Wackermann — who continues to increase his share of the Condé pie, now adding Bon Appétit and Gourmet Live to his existing stable of Glamour, W, Details and Brides — the super-publisher role is where Condé executives go to disappear. Both David Carey and Tom Florio were promoted to veritable super-publisher positions after having celebrated tenures as publishers. Both left the company this year.
“We are terrible with layers of management,” said a source. “We don’t do that well. We don’t know what their jobs are supposed to be.”
Paul Jowdy, who was once publisher of Bon Appétit but became senior executive director when Smith was brought in, will return to his old position.
The new editor of Bon Appétit will be named early next week, said a spokeswoman. — Amy Wicks and John Koblin