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Forbes Moves On Print/Web Merger; Wall Comes Down For Sales Teams; Editorial Combo Completed By ’09

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imageForbes magazine has completed the first phase of its plan to its merge print and digital sides, starting with a combined ad sales force, Valleywag first reported, and we have confirmed. The melding of the editorial sides will be completed early next year. Forbes’ integration of print and online has been rumored for some time. While president and CEO Jim Spanfeller has often been mentioned as the head of the unified print and online mag, the streamlined editorial and ad sales teams will report to an “office of the chairman.” In addition to Spanfeller, that office also includes Steve Forbes, chairman and CEO of Forbes Media and Timothy Forbes, the company’s president and COO, according to a staff memo sent out by Steve Forbes.

I spoke with a high-level source at Forbes who says that the company is moving on the combo now due to a “changing marketplace.” In the past, magazines could afford to pay “lip-service to integration,” but not any more, was how executives at the magazine company view the decision. The source added that while there will likely be some “efficiencies” identified when the integration is finished, that could mean more layoffs, though no job cuts have been identified yet. On Friday, said its site would be discontinued and its entire staff — no numbers were specified — would be laid off. Additionally, an unspecified number of jobs at ForbesTraveler were also cut, though that site would remain.

Even with those dismissals last week, the Forbes source claimed that “there are more people working here today than a year ago. That’s true of the digital side, in particular. And when the integration is finalized and everything’s in place next year, that will still be the case.”

Mediaweek: About 43 individuals lost their jobs as a result of both the Monday sales reorg and the paring down of ForbesTraveler and ForbesAuto.

2 Responses to “Forbes Moves On Print/Web Merger; Wall Comes Down For Sales Teams; Editorial Combo Completed By ’09”

  1. Brian Quinn


    Not sure what your background is, but your take on this is just wrong. Most ad sales organizations pay their reps (digital or print) based on what % they grow their business, not on the overall revenue of their existing assignment. So, a magazine with a growth budget of +5% and a companion web site with +20%… should pay their respective reps the same amount if they achieve those specific growth goals. Also, there has been a lot more pressure to pay digital reps more in this environment, since they are being recruited more heavily.

    As for this move by Forbes… it's so very 2004!!


  2. Combining sales forces is admirable, but given a weak market overall, how do you solve the discrepancy between print and online rates? That's been the problem all along — who wants to sell online when the commissions on print are soooooooo much greater?

    This move would seem to push online toward a permanent "value add" situation, which doesn't bode well for its future.