Manhattan Media Buys Harvard Mag 02138

Publications targeted to the reading elite haven’t had an easy time making money, but Manhattan Media, parent of several New York neighborhood publications, has bought Harvard grad-aimed lifestyle magazine 02138, with the belief that it can turn a publication aimed at the disparate community of Harvard grads into a bigger business.

Atlantic publisher Atlantic Media and the two founders of 02138 sold the magazine for an undisclosed purchase price.

Manhattan Media said it would increase the frequency of 02138 to six times a year from four in 2009 and use it as the launchpad for other magazines targeting graduates of other Ivy League schools under a new division, Ivy League Media.

The company said it also planned to launch events and social networking sites to complement the forthcoming magazines. No timeline was given.

Launched in October 2006 by Harvard grads Bom Kim and Daniel Loss, 02138–so named for Harvard’s ZIP code–sought to grow by convincing automotive, financial services, tech and luxury goods marketers that it reaches a disproportionately accomplished and influential audience. Claiming a readership of 100,000, 02138 is distributed to Harvard grads by mail and through events.

Skeptics doubted such a magazine could reach a large enough audience of like-minded people to be indispensable to advertisers, however.

The sale comes at a time when Atlantic Media has been focused on getting its respected but money-losing flagship The Atlantic into the black. Executives there said a delay in corporate image advertising, sharp ad rate increase in 2007 and longstanding lack of marketing have hurt the journal financially. Atlantic Media also publishes Government Executive and National Journal.

Tom Allon, with backing from Isis Venture Partners, started Manhattan Media in 2001 with the purchase of four Manhattan community newspapers, followed in 2002 by the purchase of luxury lifestyle magazine Avenue.