FILLING A GAP: Portfolio.com has tapped Larry Kramer, founder of MarketWatch, as a Web consultant for the next few months. David Carey, group president and publishing director, said Kramer will work with portfolio.com, which had more than one million unique visitors this month (according to internal data), to look into new ideas and help with plans for the site heading into next year. The Web site was apparently in talks with Kramer for the consultant position before portfolio.com managing editor Chris Jones said he was leaving.
After attending the American Magazine Conference on Monday, Carey was on hand at the Future of Business Media conference at the Waldorf-Astoria Tuesday. He was part of a panel discussion, which had moderator Rafat Ali, editor and publisher of ContentNext Media, sticking up for Portfolio — sort of. “I actually like Portfolio — I know it’s not fashionable to say,” Ali confessed.
Carey said a lot has been said in the media about the departures at Portfolio, but he claimed the eight staffers who’ve left during the past 18 months — out of about 90 total editorial staffers — represents the lowest attrition rate for a launch at Condé Nast. He said there has been circulation success, adding that business schools are calling and asking for copies of the magazine. And when asked how long the publication has to succeed, Carey said the time frame at Condé Nast is usually a decade. “Some of our greatest competition is in the Condé Nast building,” Carey admitted, without, of course, naming names. — Amy Wicks
FEAR ITSELF: It was hard to see Eileen Naughton’s return to the American Magazine Conference — which she had chaired in 2004, a year before she was laid off as president of Time magazine — as anything but triumphant. Now the director of media platforms at Google, Naughton walked the audience through the fundamentals of Google’s ad strategy and invited them to “liberate their content,” pointing out that, by the end of 2005, more Americans were searching for blogs than for magazine content.
Plotting major sites along a long tail in the Chris Anderson mode, she urged magazine executives to find their place a little closer to that tail’s head. A few successful sites were singled out — forbes.com, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia’s sites, TheKnot.com and Condé Nast’s Epicurious. (Time Inc. sites were absent from the list). But even as she praised Epicurious, Naughton emphasized its traffic “wasn’t going to blow any doors off.” Naughton had more praise for Glam.com, which she said had become “an advertising mecca” by, among other strategies, repackaging content from partners such as Hearst, without the magazine editors’ intervention.
This story first appeared in the October 31, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Don’t fear Google,” she insisted in closing, to the audience’s incredulous laughter. She added, a little smugly, “Just $6 billion of advertising revenue in the last year, right?” Naughton closed by throwing the audience a bone: “Now I’m going to go out and grab a bunch of magazines for the flight — one of my favorite activities.” It was unclear how much comfort this was to her listeners. — Irin Carmon
NEW HEAD: Newsweek on Tuesday revealed changes to its top ranks: editor in chief and chief executive officer Rick Smith has stepped down from his positions, but will remain chairman of the magazine. Smith has spent 37 years at the company, 24 of them as editor in chief of the newsweekly. Viacom veteran Thomas Ascheim will become ceo of Newsweek Inc. He’s worked at Viacom since 1990, most recently as general manager of Nickelodeon. Ann McDaniel was promoted to managing director of Newsweek Inc. in addition to her duties as vice president of The Washington Post Co. McDaniel also had stints as Newsweek’s managing editor and the Washington bureau chief. Ascheim and Newsweek editor John Meacham will report to McDaniel; she will remain based in Washington. An editor in chief was not named. Finally, Greg Osberg, currently executive vice president, worldwide publisher of Newsweek, will become president of the magazine. He succeeds Harold Shain, who was named ceo of Newsweek Inc.’s Budget Travel. — Stephanie D. Smith
HOUSING WORKS: Vogue Living’s book, “Houses, Gardens, People,” will have to fight for space on bookshelves — both Elle Decor and Architectural Digest are releasing coffee-table books this week. On Thursday, Elle Decor’s “So Chic: Glamorous Lives, Stylish Spaces” hits bookshelves, taking from its archive of celebrity home profiles and including packages with style tips on decorating and entertaining. The book includes a look inside the homes of Donatella Versace, Ricky and Ralph Lauren, Giambattista Valli, Tamara Mellon, Delphine and Reed Krakoff, Cindy Crawford and Sarah Jessica Parker.
“We hadn’t done a book in a while,” said Margaret Russell, editor in chief of Elle Decor. “We wanted to do a compilation of one kind of story — being international fashion for the home. [This brings together] the worlds of fashion and style, or design stories that have a more fashionable spin to them.”
Russell signed copies of the book at Bergdorf Goodman on Monday at a party at the same time Francisco Costa hosted a party at Calvin Klein’s Madison Avenue store for Vogue Living’s book. Guests at the Elle soiree included the Krakoffs, Robert Verdi, Valentino’s Carlos Souza, Bergdorf’s Linda Fargo and Elle’s Nina Garcia.
Meanwhile, Architectural Digest’s latest book, “Private Views: Inside the World’s Greatest Homes,” hits bookstores today. The book will include about 30 international homes and estates, including the Laurens’ Bedford, N.Y., abode. Ralph Lauren hosted Architectural Digest’s book party Tuesday night at his Madison Avenue store. — S.D.S.