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Dubow wants to expand brand

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After nine years of shepherding lifestyle coverage at Forbes.com, Charles Dubow is sure of one thing; and that is whether it's a middle manager or a millionaire, everyone aspires to a higher quality of life.

"Rich people like to look across the hedge, too," said Dubow, who recently joined BusinessWeek Online as director of new products. "For the Bill Gateses or the Warren Buffets of the world, they can own a lot of Ferraris and I bet they've never come close to buying one."

Dubow, who was one of the founders of Forbes.com in 1997 and served as its lifestyle editor, satisfied that appetite for fun with features on topics such as the best resorts, toys of the superrich and an annual most-expensive-things list. He now hopes to replicate his success in the newly created position at BusinessWeek Online.

A great, great-grandson of tire magnate B.F. Goodrich, Dubow joined Forbes.com to create Digital Cool, an online version of Forbes FYI, the lifestyle supplement to the Forbes print product. In 2000, he created the Lifestyle channel, which represented more than 50% of all page views at Forbes.com in 2005.

Dubow wouldn't run down his list of likes and dislikes of the current BusinessWeek Online. But his hiring signals that management agrees with his assertion that a business news site needs a balanced mix of hard-hitting business news, analysis and softer content.

"People look at BusinessWeek as a smart, reliable magazine," Dubow said. "Brands do evolve, brands do grow and, obviously, one of the reasons I came over here is to make the BusinessWeek brand expand a little bit. You don't want to run a restaurant that doesn't serve dessert. They are still doing the meat and potatoes, and I can do other things."

He already plans to add content on autos and real estate and is hiring staffers to produce those types of everyday features. With more lifestyle coverage, Dubow reasoned, will come more page views and more advertising, particularly from luxury good-makers. But he also is sensing more interest from consumer product manufacturers. "There is a very great hunger out there from the advertising community for the kind of content that reflects their product well," he said.

BusinessWeek Online's tweaking isn't going on in a vacuum. Forbes recently grouped all its print and online lifestyle products under one editorial brand initiative, called ForbesLife, to better sell advertising across its platforms. The Wall Street Journal's "Personal Journal" and Weekend Journal are well established. And competitors are entering the space, too.

Success Magazine will be launched shortly by private investors and will initially be published three times this year. And heavyweight Conde Nast Publications, whose titles include Architectural Digest, Glamour and Vanity Fair, is planning a still-unnamed monthly business magazine and Web site.

Dubow doesn't appear fazed. "There's so much money coming online that I'm not sure it's a question of taking it from someone else at this point," he said. M

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