Spanfeller, who has committed to stay on at Forbes.com through Labor Day to ease the transition, is leaving to start his own media management company. After stints at Ziff Davis, Newsweek and American Express Publishing, Spanfeller joined Forbes.com and provided the vision for turning it into a news aggregation site. In the process he helped increase monthly unique visitors to the Web site to about 18 million.
He embraced online video, turning Forbes.com reporters into something akin to TV news reporters. He has also embraced controversy, especially when it comes to Google, which he sees as making money off the backs of content creators such as Forbes.com.
“Forbes.com has truly been a truly wonderful ride, and I am deeply in debt to the Forbes family for letting me be a part of it,” Spanfeller said in a statement.
In an interview with BtoB, he said that he hoped to have his media management business launched in the fall. He plans for his company to run the digital portion of media companies as standalone units in the same way that he initially ran Forbes.com before Forbes announced plans to unify the digital and print businesses.
“I'll take over as we did for Forbes.com,” he said. “It's the model we set up when I first got involved. It was basically a standalone and operated separately from the magazine, and I operated it as such.”
In an internal memo, Forbes CEO Steve Forbes said, “Jim has done a monumental job of bringing Forbes.com to the lead position in business Web sites and secured Forbes.com as the must-visit site for not only global business leaders but also anyone interested in the finest business reporting and analysis available.”
A successor to Spanfeller has not been named.