Conde Nast's Portfolio's Deep Pockets

This Monday Condé Nast -- publisher of magazines like The New Yorker, Vogue and Vanity Fair -- will launch its long-awaited, much-hyped business title, Condé Nast Portfolio.

Unlike most business magazines, such as Forbes and Fortune, which rely on snappy, analytical stories covering topical news, Portfolio will run long-form features. Furthermore, whereas Forbes and Fortune publish biweekly, Portfolio will appear monthly.

Also set to debut Monday is the magazine's Web site,, which "focuses more on the business news of the day," says David Carey, group publisher and president of the Condé Nast Business Media Group. According to Carey, the site will feature a dozen bloggers and a directory of no less than a million executives and companies.

Still, all eyes -- and industry chatter -- remain fixed on the print vehicle, which many believe is Condé Nast's most expensive magazine launch ever. Reports published in The New York Times and elsewhere estimate that the company has committed to spending between $100 million and $125 million on the magazine before it becomes profitable.

Which raises the question: Why now?

Dark Times for the Magazine Industry

Over past two years, numerous glossy magazines have folded and even print's staunchest defenders admit that advertising dollars are trending toward the Internet.

"I can count about 16 titles of notable size that have shut down during the last 18 months," says Bill Mickey, a senior editor at Folio, a trade publication that covers the magazine industry. "In March this year alone, Life, Child, InfoWorld and Premiere were closed, although in all of those cases the publishers have chosen to keep online live, something which is becoming a trend now as print revenue becomes subordinate to online."

High-profile closings from last year include FHM, ElleGirl, TeenPeople and Budget Living.

Amid this print-publishing slump, the business titles suffered the biggest collective ad revenue losses of any single magazine category in 2006, according to an analysis in Folio of the 2006 PIB Revenue & Pages. Those most affected include such Portfolio competitors as Fast Company, Forbes and BusinessWeek.

Still, Columbia Journalism Review's Dean Starkman, who opines on the media in his blog called the Audit, believes Portfolio will be a hit.

"There's been a self-defeating feeling from the media, but this is a big moment for business media," he says. "I think they're going to reinvent the craft of business reporting and make a ton of money."

Dylan Stableford, managing editor of media news at, a site dedicated to online and offline publishing, is not convinced. "It's an interesting move to launch a new magazine when magazines are folding left and right. Time Inc. has sold off two magazine divisions, and publishers are trying to figure out how to translate their publications for the Web," he says. "There's a certain bravado there, for sure."

"There's no question that every facet of the media business is in transition right now," says Condé Nast's Carey. "The market is changing. We know people get the business news recaps of the last two weeks on their Treos or BlackBerries -- and they'll get that on our Web site -- but that's not what we're trying to do with this magazine. We've found that there's a big interest in sweeping narratives that elevate the news instead of chase it."

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...