Linda Zecher has resigned as CEO of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt after a five-year run. The company has named Gordon Crovitz, a member of the board since 2012, and former publisher of The Wall Street Journal, as interim CEO. A search for a new CEO is currently underway.
A former Microsoft executive, Zecher instituted a wide-ranging restructuring of the publisher in November 2011, just three months after joining HMH. The reorganization created a unified educational operation and resulted in the elimination of hundreds of jobs.
The trade and reference group was not affected by the reorganization and, in fact, grew under Zecher. Among other decisions regarding the group, Zecher approved HMH’s purchase of John Wiley’s cookbook and reference line in late 2012.
The company as a whole, however, has struggled as the el-hi publishing market has undergone numerous changes. Revenues for the first half of 2016 were up 9%, to $598 million, over the first six months of 2015. That figure, however, included revenue from the educational technology publishing division HMH bought from Scholastic in spring 2015. The loss for the first six months of 2016 deepened to $193 million, from $167 million in the comparable period in 2015.
In making the announcement of Zecher’s departure, HMH said it expected billings for 2016 to come in at the low end of its revised guidance due to slower than expected sales in the key third quarter period. HMH said it would issue a further update for 2016 results in November, when it releases third quarter financials.
Correction: The HMH restructuring eliminated hundreds of positions, not thousands as originally stated.