Idea Village CEO Tim Williamson is leaving the nonprofit he founded to take the helm of The Times-Picayune and its website, nola.com, in August.
Williamson, 51, succeeds Ricky Mathews as president of NOLA Media Group, the company said Thursday. Mathews was hired to lead the media company when it was formed in 2012 to absorb The Times-Picayune and adopt a digital-first strategy. During his tenure, the company reduced the paper’s home delivery schedule to three days a week.
Williamson defended that strategy Thursday, saying he believed the newspaper was “on the front end of trying to create a new industry standard,” but also acknowledged that “print is critical and very important to our city.”
Founded in 2000, the Idea Village is a nonprofit that promotes New Orleans as a hub of entrepreneurial activity. Williamson was paid $260,000 in 2013, according to the nonprofit’s 2014 tax returns, the most recent publicly available.
Emily Madero, Idea Village’s chief operating officer, will serve as the organization’s acting CEO effective Aug. 1.
Its signature event, New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, has attracted thousands of entrepreneurs, business executives, investors and students for the past eight years to workshops, panel discussions and networking events.
“Many of you have seen first-hand what Tim has accomplished with the Idea Village, which has become a driving force for building a sustainable New Orleans through entrepreneurship. His commitment to digital innovation and his appreciation for the importance of community journalism make him the ideal leader for the next chapter of our growth,” Randy Siegel, president of Advance Local, said Thursday in an email to staff.
A New Orleans native, Williamson graduated from Isidore Newman High School in 1983 and in 1987 from Tulane University, where he studied finance.
Williamson said he doesn’t have any immediate, sweeping changes in mind for the company. However, he expects he’ll be given “the resources and the opportunity to grow this and to try new things.”
“In order to be positioned for the ever-changing world of how things are changing, businesses have to make new decisions,” he said.
“How you execute those decisions are going to be critical to the future.”
Mathews announced earlier this year that he would step down as president of NOLA Media Group and The Times-Picayune, but continue in a new position with Advance Local, another company tied to the newspaper’s New York-based owner, Advance Publications.
Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.