Conde Nast is shutting down its glossy business magazine Portfolio, two years after its launch. Conde Nast famously poured $100 million to launch the publication, which went on an expensive hiring spree in 2007 in its attempt to take on Fortune, Forbes, and Business Week. The magazine always seemed to me to have an unhealthy fixation with Wall Street and the hedge fund boom over other industries, but as Wall Street cratered nobody wanted to read those stories anymore. The drop in print advertising, down 26 percent in the first quarter, didn’t help matters either.
Portfolio saw itself in the same vein as the Fortune magazine of the 1930s, filled with lush photographs and long narratives. But that formula doesn’t work in an age where business is about speed, not leisure or luxury. It also doesn’t work in an age where monthly magazines in general are increasingly challenged by the wealth of instantaneous business news available on the Web. (And you thought the daily newspapers had it tough). Portfolio’s insistence on favoring its print over its Website content also helped to hasten its demise. If you are going to start a magazine these days, the Website has to come first. The magazine companies still don’t realize this simple fact.
Finally, there will always linger the question of leadership. The magazine’s editor Joanne Lippman alienated and drove away much of her star staff. I know people who used to work there, and the stories I always heard were ones of disarray, which is to be expected at any startup, even one with $100 million in corporate backing.
Did anyone here even read Portfolio magazine. Does anyone here even read magazines? Oh well, another one for the deadpool.
(Disclosure: I used to work at Fortune a long time ago).