When 8020 Media, the publisher of JPG Magazine, announced its shutdown on January 1, CEO Mitchell Fox told friends via email that they just couldn’t turn the corner on revenue in the down economy, despite being close to profitable before the downturn.
In a blog post, the company said they unsuccessfully sought out buyers and investors to keep the company alive. But the attention the site received after the announced shutdown changed things, it seems, and a number of buyers have now approached the company to buy it and keep it alive (SmugMug is one of them, it seems).
JPG Magazine was an attempt to create a photography magazine that relied on its readers for its content and included them in the editing process. Nearly 200,000 photographers have submitted photographs for consideration to JPG, many of them via Flickr. The site itself was able to attract about 300,000 unique U.S. viewers a month (Quantcast), but its business model relied on selling print ads.
According to two sources we’ve talked to, the company is in the process of taking bids from interested buyers now, and there are already firm offers on the table which are attractive to the company’s current stockholders, including founding investor Minor Ventures. A deadline for offers has been set for early next week, with a very quick close immediately afterward to preserve as much brand value as possible (not to mention the fact that employees have now been laid off, so any rehires need to be done quickly).
Can new management make JPG a success? The dead tree publishing business is a bit suicidal in my opinion, but JPG Magazine may still be an exception. As I wrote in 2006, JPG Magazine had very low content costs, a vibrant online community of photographers, and a beautiful product that deserves a place on people’s coffee tables. When print media eventually moves completely to the Internet, hopefully a few publications like JPG Magazine will still be around.