Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Close BusinessWeek?

Marketwatch suggested yesterday that profit-hungry McGraw-Hill, which just announced atrocious second quarter earnings, might actually close BW if a buyer can't be found:

McGraw-Hill has several options, none of which will bring smiles to the faces of worried BusinessWeek staffers. Indeed, it can try hard to find a buyer and unload its magazine foundation. Or McGraw-Hill can be adventurous (this is not a company well known for being daring) and make BusinessWeek an wholly online product. Worst of all, McGraw-Hill can ultimately do what Condé Nast did with Portfolio: kill it.
Closing is not out of the question, if for no other reason than because Condé Nast did indeed just kill Portfolio.

Over the years, McGraw-Hill has unsentimentally shuttered operations that haven't met expectations, ranging from BW's ill-fated financial supplement Assets to something called Value Added News. The latter was a financial wire service, and it was shut down before the 1990s explosion in financial news. Talk about terrific timing. (Don't bother googling either
Assets or VAN; neither are there.)

But I can't see management just pulling the plug on BW. It would amount to taking millions of dollars invested in the magazine over eighty years and flushing it down the toilet.

That's right. This is BW's eightieth anniversary. It was founded by the current CEO's grandfather, so there is sentiment factor that can't be discounted altogether.

My betting is on BW being sold, and not for a dollar, though I shudder to think who might buy it (Sam Zell? The Saudis?). But if a buyer can't be found, I'd not be surprised if it becomes an online-only venture, just like Portfolio.

© 2009 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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