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Condé Nast shutters ‘Portfolio’

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New York—Condé Nast dropped a long-anticipated ax on Condé Nast Portfolio this morning, shutting down the expensive, ambitious effort to build a business magazine with a stylish presentation, according to a report by Advertising Age, a BtoB sibling publication.

The move affects more than 85 employees, already down from a peak of 140 after a retrenchment last November, including Editor in Chief Joanne Lipman and Publisher William Li, who are both leaving the company.

The last issue of Portfolio is on newsstands now.

Condée Nast is closing the Portfolio.com Web site as well, although there are discussions inside the company about eventually reviving it in some way.

The news seemed to emerge first on Twitter, where All Things D blogger Peter Kafka posted word Monday morning.

David Carey, the group president and publishing director who launched Portfolio two years ago, called the decision to give up an agonizing one.

“I just left the staff meeting,” he said. “This is a business that we have liked being in. We are proud of the product, which is nominated for three Loeb awards.”

The economy’s collapse, however, cut both ways—ultimately for the worse. It heightened interest in the economy, but it also submerged five categories of advertising on which Portfolio depended: financial services, corporate branding, business travel, auto and luxury.

“Even if the economy starts to recover, it’s likely the advertising is going to lag it,” Carey said. “The gap between where we needed the business to be in 2010 and 2011 proved to be too large.”

Although Lipman in particular received regular criticism on blogs such as Gawker and in the pages of the New York Post, Carey said he admired the Portfolio team, which at one time included a raft of famous writers.

“They’ve had to labor with a new product in a very challenged environment. We’re very proud of what has been accomplished in only 21 issues,” he said. “From an advertising standpoint, the goal was advertisers new to the company and new to the category,” he added. “Strategically, check the boxes on all this stuff: a different voice, a different style, a different type of advertiser. All of that was on its way to being accomplished, and then, of course, a significant hit to advertising from the recession.”

Portfolio is not the first Condé Nast title to close down in the past year. The company shut down Domino in January and dropped Men’s Vogue as a stand-alone title last October.

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