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Close of ‘Business 2.0’ leaves few dot-com-related titles left

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The shuttering of Time Inc.’s Business 2.0, announced last week, marks the end of yet another magazine that flourished during the dot-com era only to be felled by the subsequent fallout in Web stocks. The October issue will be Business 2.0’s last.

One of the high-flying business books of the late 1990s, Business 2.0’s ad page growth was for a time regularly in the double digits. But its fortunes started to sag when the Internet market bottomed out earlier this decade. Through the first half of this year, Business 2.0’s ad revenue dropped 30.1%, and its ad pages fell 34.1%, compared with the year-earlier period, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.

Eighteen members of the Business 2.0 staff will lose their jobs, said Danielle Perissi, a spokeswoman for Time Inc.’s Business and Finance Network. Business 2.0’s Managing Editor Josh Quittner and 10 members of his editorial staff have been offered jobs with Time Inc.’s Fortune.

An e-mail to Quittner, seeking comment about the close, was not returned. Vivek Shah, who in July was named president of Time Inc.’s Business and Finance Network, succeeding Chris Poleway, was not available to comment on the shuttering of Business 2.0, Perissi said.

Business 2.0 joins a long list of publications whose fortunes rose and fell with dot-com boom and bust. These include Red Herring (which continues to exist online), The Industry Standard, Upside and Yahoo! Internet Life.

(IDG Communications, which owns The Industry Standard brand, is currently “exploring the creation of a media property covering emerging technologies and the Internet economy, potentially using IDG’s Industry Standard Brand,” according to an IDG statement. An IDG spokesman would not elaborate.)

“[Business 2.0’s] primary subject has been mainstreamed by the mainstream business publications, which no longer cover the Internet as niche” said Gene DeWitt, chairman of consultancy DeWitt Media Strategies.

DeWitt said Time Inc. waited too long to pull the plug on Business 2.0. “Usually, when a company waits this long there’s usually somebody at the top who had a vested interest and a strong feeling that it was a good buy,” he said.

U.K.-based Future Network launched Business 2.0 in 1998 and sold it to Time Inc. in 2001 for a reported $68 million. Although the Internet market tanked in 2000, it wasn’t until a year or so later that it started to take a toll on so-called “new economy” titles.

Recent reports said Time Inc. turned down an offer from Mansueto Ventures, which owns Inc. and Fast Company, to acquire the Business 2.0 brand and its circulation list of 600,000 subscribers and opted to fold the title altogether. Fast Company is one of the few titles highly identified with the dot-com era that is still standing.

E-mails to John Koten, CEO of Mansueto Ventures, were not returned.

“The 600,000 subscriber list is probably worth more to fold them into Fortune than what was probably being offered,” DeWitt said, pointing to a New York Post report Sept. 5 that quoted sources as saying that Mansueto offered about $5 million for Business 2.0.

Mark Edmiston, a managing director at media investment bank AdMedia Partners, who had shopped Business 2.0 on behalf of Time Inc., said Fortune may pick up around 25% of the ad dollars previously devoted to Business 2.0.

“It had turned into a tiny magazine, and tiny is not Time Inc.’s forte,” Edmiston said. “But that doesn’t mean that new economy business titles can’t survive.”

He added that advertisers are not necessarily going to ramp up spending on other business titles as a result of Business 2.0’s shuttering. “They’re not going to increase their budgets [with specific titles] just because Business 2.0 has gone away,” he said.

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