Down Market: Conde Nast Shutters 'Portfolio'
28 april 2009 | 17:45
Portfolio, the ambitious business magazine launched with much fanfare by Conde Nast in April 2007, is history. The decision was revealed to staffers by Editor in Chief Joanne Lipman on Monday morning, and made public by a blog on the magazine's Web site shortly thereafter. All 85 of the magazine's staffers are leaving the company.
The news marks the end of a highly visible, two-year gamble by Conde Nast, which defied skeptics by launching a new print business magazine while others were in decline (Time Inc. shuttered Business 2.0 five months after Portfolio launched.)
Despite all the challenges facing consumer magazines and business titles in particular, Portfolio had one key advantage. As a pet project of Conde Nast chairman Si Newhouse, it was given time to work out financial and editorial kinks and prove itself in the marketplace. In fact, when it launched in 2007, Conde Nast was said to be prepared to spend $100 million to $150 million just to establish the title as a profitable business. But even this generous approach could not reverse downward trends in print media and the American economy in general.
After a strong start, with 122 ad pages in the third quarter of 2007 and 335 in the fourth quarter, the economic downturn dealt a harsh blow to Portfolio. Ad pages fell 16% in the second quarter of 2008, compared to the same period in 2007, 11.1% in the third quarter, and 33.1% in the fourth quarter. In the first quarter of 2009, they plunged 61%.
While it's cold comfort, the business magazine category has been hit hard in the recession. In the first quarter of 2009, ad pages fell 39.8% at BusinessWeek, 18.8% at The Economist, 28.8% at Fast Company, 15% at Forbes, 26.3% at Fortune, 46.7% at Inc., 25.8% at Money and 18.9% at Smart Money. For consumer magazines in general, ad pages fell 26% in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.
Portfolio joins a growing pile of magazine titles from various categories that shuttered in 2009, including Wondertime, Domino, Forbes' Mountain Time, Hallmark Magazine and Best Life. 2009 has also seen the demise of more established titles like Country Home, Teen, Figure, Travel & Leisure Golf and Blender.