Off Topic: BusinessWeek Is for Sale — Who's Next?


A few months ago, 24/7 Wall Street, a New York-based blog, suggested that the sun was about to set on BusinessWeek, Forbes and Fortune — and that BusinessWeek would be the first to go. Well, they were right. McGraw-Hill Cos. (s mhp), the parent company of S&P and BusinessWeek, has reportedly hired boutique investment bank Evercore Partners to sell the venerable magazine that started in 1929. Fortune and Forbes are from that era of magazines as well.


It’s a sad day for business publications. I don’t particularly miss Portfolio, the $100 million disaster produced by CondeNast Publications, but those big three have been part of my media diet for a very long time. Never mind that I once worked for,  Fortune’s parent company and now partner with BusinessWeek, which syndicates our content — and still have dozens of friends there.

There is, of course, a massive upheaval taking place in the media business. While some have foolishly blamed Google (s goog), the fact of the matter is that the relentless forces of Moore’s Law and broadband, along with economic and demographic shifts, are what’s causing this massive disruption of the media landscape.

The inevitability of it all is what makes it so depressing. I am seriously glad that so far The Economist, my favorite paper-based publication, remains far removed from the current crisis. But the question now is, who’s next? Any guesses?


Article Playground

BusinessWeek, like alot of other major companies online, should’ve incorporated an “affiliate program” into their online business model structure, so that when times like this did take place, they would have the affiliates on the internet to reply on, to successfully promote their affiliate program, thus helping the company to retain it’s head above water :-)


I know I am such a dinosaur but I’m a paid subscriber who reads the magazine every week. Of course I also read it online quite a bit but still enjoy reading the printed edition, too. Just wondering who from the edit staff will be going once changes begin taking place, as it now seems inevitable. Maybe a greater focus on the web version will mean better opportunities for PR ultimately?? Perhaps! That is my hope, anyway.

Paul Kapustka

Wine Spectator should be an interesting one to watch. Last few covers have all had “value” stories (like wines under $20, etc.) and columnists inside have been talking about how the downturn is affecting consuming and collecting. How long before it hits the bottom line of the publication itself?

Shankar Saikia


Several factors are leading to the demise of print media. Commodity prices (paper, ink) are rising. Consumers are showing preference for new media such as blogs, social networking sites etc. Traditional print media companies have not found a sustainable online business model. So, I am unsure of whether the online versions of Businessweek, Forbes etc. will be able to make money. Traditional print media needs to find new business models that leverage their brand value.


Well, we know Playboy is on the block. Probably we’ll start seeing more genre oriented zines going away because print costs vs. immediate e-delivery are so irreconcilable. Think Rolling Stone, Car and Driver, Sports Illustrated, etc. Actually, I can’t remember the last time I purchased a physical magazine except for Wired but only because it was to help some door-to-door student earn credits for her scholarship. And I picked Wired because it is such a cool looking magazine in general, while managing to be provocative and updated. Otherwise, I would just read it online. For free. Like everything else. Including GigaOm.

Sam Whitmore

Expect to see even more user-generated content published at BusinessWeek… it will make the property more attractive to buyers and more relevant to readers and advertisers.

Om Malik

Sam how do you expect that to happen? I am not sure I quite understand your argument and would love to know more. Thanks

Constance Korol

It is not a surprise to me. Once an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal paper edition, I now find most of my news from Twitter along with the iphone apps of Mashable, Bloomberg, WSJ and Huff Post. I touch upon this new media stream as a guest blogger to HJMT Communications, posted here:

Om Malik

Great move with that comment – great for blatant self promotion and who is hillary topper? should we care?


I knew something was amiss when I received an offer to subscribe to Fortune for three years for a grand total of $22.00. This was last fall and I grabbed it.

Kelley Marie Mitchell

Yeah, but even if BusinessWeek is for sale that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be going away. The magazine itself might, but they do have a big online presence. It will still be interesting to see how it plays out.

Om Malik

I think their website is going to be key but the Bloomberg article mentions how big a staff do they have and I can only imagine their cost structure. I think whatever happens they will be a much smaller publication and it is a shame because I do like what they publish.

Kelley Marie Mitchell

BusinessWeek does have a very useful website. I often use it when doing research on companies. I wonder if it would be profitable for them to move to a business model like Hoover’s who offers basic business information for free and a subscription for more in-depth research.

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