'Portfolio' to Cease Publication


NEW YORK People have been writing Conde Nast Portfolio’s obit even before its costly launch in the spring of 2007.

The title, staffed by a who’s who of writers with former Wall Street Journal editor Joanne Lipman at the helm as editor, once promised to revolutionize the business category by presenting business coverage in an engaging, Vanity Fair-esque style.

But critics were skeptical from the start of the concept of a magazine that could combine business and lifestyle and in doing so attract a male-female audience and appeal to business and non-business advertisers alike. Its nontraditional concept cover choices also drew criticism. With the faltering economy that’s particularly hard on new launches, the question on many people’s minds became not if but when Portfolio would go under.

Now, those critics are being proven right, as the company today pulled the plug on the magazine and its Web site. The signs were adding up: the title achieved a circulation of 449,005 in the second half of 2008, per the Audit Bureau of Circulations, but 91,493 of those copies were free, public-place distribution, and newsstand sell-through was 15.5 percent, which is particularly low for the industry.

Last fall, the company scaled back Portfolio’s monthly frequency to 10 times in 2009, reducing its costs by 17 percent and cutting the staff by 20 percent. This year through its May issue, ad pages plummeted 59 percent to 119 versus the same period last year (when the title published one more issue), per the Mediaweek Monitor. By comparison, the business/personal finance category declined 32 percent.

The May issue will be the last and the Web site will close sometime in the second quarter, a company spokeswoman said. More than 85 people who worked on both entities will leave the company, including Lipman and William Li, the publisher. “The revenue projections needed to continue the publication did not exist at this time,” the rep said. “The challenges facing this launch proved to be too great.”

Continue to next page →