Title: Editor, Fast Company
Company: Mansueto Ventures
Comment: Safian's punched up the magazine's design and continues to take an unorthodox approach to covering business markets.
Bob Safian was named editor of Fast Company in February 2007. The first issue developed on his watch featured a cover story on Mark Zuckerberg, the then 23-year-old founder-CEO of social-networking site Facebook. At the time, putting Zuckerberg on the cover was considered going against the grain.
“The existing business magazines were obsessed with YouTube and MySpace, because they had been acquired by Google and News Corp., and the prevailing wisdom was that Zuckerberg was foolish because Facebook said "No' to Yahoo,” said Safian, who was executive editor of Fortune before joining Fast Company. “But we sensed a compelling story about a next-generation leader with a new business model, who was tapping into—and creating—new markets.”
Safian's editorial approach has worked well for Fast Company, which was on the ropes when Mansueto Ventures acquired it and Inc. from now-defunct Gruner+Jahr USA in 2005.
In this year's first quarter, Fast Company's ad pages jumped 29% compared with the same period last year.
In the past 12 months, Safian has streamlined the design of the monthly to give it more visual punch and has recruited new talent, such as Robert Scoble, a popular blogger who writes “The Scoble Show” column.
“We're looking for stories that aren't being done anywhere else,” Safian said. “But it's important that they are "big picture' stories that everyone is talking about, or should be talking about.” —M.S.