Conde Nast shutting down Portfolio

In 2007, New York magazine posed the question, will Portfolio magazine prove the naysayers wrong? Now we know the answer to that question is "no."

The slick, monthly magazine that seemed to shrink every month is ceasing publication immediately, according to various media reports. The magazine, which had a circulation of about 415,000, was launched at a more optimistic time when media companies thought that all you needed was quality content to attract readers and advertisers.

Conde Nast spent $125 million launching Portfolio, at the time its most expensive magazine start ever, according to New York magazine. The company even brought in the highly regarded Joanne Lipman as the magazine's editor from The Wall Street Journal and a roster of talented writers. New York described Portfolio as "possibly the last brand-new, big-time journalistically ambitious magazine ever."

I read the magazine from time to time. Some of the articles were great. Others were just okay. Conde Nast seemed to be trying to create a hybrid between Vanity Fair and the Journal and it never quite seemed to work. When the advertising market for business news collapsed, Portfolio was crushed. First-quarter advertising pages were down 60.9 percent even as it reduced the frequency of its publication.

According to Portfolio's now-unemployed media blogger Jeff Bercovici, editor in chief Joanne Lipman "said the magazine is ahead of its business plan on various business metrics, and also noted that it won a National Magazine Award last year after publishing only a handful of issues . . ."

Portfolio was a big, expensive toy for Conde Nast and the Newhouse family. The trouble is that toys won't work if their batteries run out of juice.

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