2017 looks like the year in which The New York Times  ( NYT) finally turned the digital corner. Yet, Wednesday's announcement of CEO Mark Thompson's reorganization of his top leadership indicates he doesn't want to simply make the turn; he wants to accelerate through it.
The 59-year-old Thompson announced the appointment of 46-year-old Meredith Kopit Levien as the Times' first chief operating officer in more than a decade. While the appointment clearly puts a potential succession in place, its immediate motive is clear: speedier to market with products that will double down on Thompson's now highly articulated "subscriber-first" strategy. 
In her expanded role, Levien takes on responsibility for product and design, the two, of course, inextricably tied, in the digital age. The intention: she'll ramp up time-to-market for the Times' next set of product launches -- initiatives all intended to take advantage of the current luminosity of the Times brand in the Trump age.

Importantly, as Levien assumes the greater role, Kinsey Wilson, who has led much of the company's digital efforts over the past two years, will not take on another permanent role, his position eliminated. Wilson will stay with the Times for an unspecified time and advise Thompson. "We like his digital vision, his insights, his instinct and his abilities to get synergies with the newsroom," the CEO told me on Wednesday.

Shares of The New York Times Company fell 0.6% to $17.25 on Wednesday, but are up almost 30% so far this year.

The elimination of Wilson's position ["Why the New York Times hired Kinsey Wilson"] poses one significant question mark today. Much of the Times' success over the last two years has been built on a newly built and stronger internal dynamic of unusually close collaboration between the newsroom and the Times' business side. Still, Thompson, noting that this is his third significant re-org in a five-year tenure, is willing to take that gamble. He paints this move as a next step in a continuing process of reinvention. 

"With Meredith, I find that things happen and they happen quickly, in repeated cycles," says Thompson, in explaining the promotion. Indeed, internally, her work is well-respected, and she's known as a tough-minded manager and a risk taker. "She'll increase the clock time on product development and time to market," one business-side insider told me Wednesday, and that sense has been reinforced as I've talked to more than a dozen Times staffers over time. Faster decision-making inevitably means "no" as well as "yes," and Levien's willingness to do so clearly helped in her elevation. 

I asked Levien what she is going to do to expedite product-centric market strategies.

"Hire and retain great people with domain expertise," she says, and her top lieutenants, including T-Brand's Seb Tomich and Brand's David Rubin indicate the kinds of moves she'll make next. Thompson told me that her first big hire will be a "head of product and design," which is a new position for the Times. (Both top positions heading design and product, last held by David Perpich, who has gone on to head the Times' Wirecutter unit, have been vacant.)

Historically, that job has been a difficult one for Thompson to fill, though Wilson overall has gotten good marks for moving the Times' core digital products, especially its smartphone one, and its newsroom culture, profoundly forward. In addition, he's led the Times' new highly successful podcast initiative, led by The Daily, and serves as a main liaison point to the Silicon Valley giants whose businesses are entangled with the Times

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