'Fortune' eyes its own spinoff on technology

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Time Inc.'s Fortune wants to grab a piece of the new e-conomy.

The business magazine's executives and editors, who have seen the likes of Business 2.0 and Red Herring rack up ad pages and attention, are mulling their own technology title.

''While we have not made any decision, we are obviously considering our options given Fortune's strength in that area and the huge demand for that kind of information,'' said Jack Haire, Fortune Group president.

E-Company is one working title, insiders at Fortune said.

NEW STAFF BEING CONSIDERED

Top management is weighing whether it's wise to create a new monthly with a separate staff that would focus on technology and its effect on businesses. A month ago, several editorial staffers held meetings to discuss potential story ideas for the spinoff, and developed prototypes of a table of contents.

Marketing staff members conducted an analysis that found nearly 75% of the advertising in start-up books such as Business 2.0, The Industry Standard and Red Herring was from advertisers that didn't run in Fortune, said one insider. That gives credence to the idea that a new title wouldn't cannibalize Fortune.

Among the topics still under discussion: What slice of the market the new title would cover and how large a circulation it would seek, said one executive close to the talks.

Fortune has beefed up technology coverage lately, ever since Managing Editor John Huey joined two years ago.

One reason for the newcomers' ad-page success is their much lower rates. Fortune, with a guaranteed rate base of 775,000, charges $67,500 for a color page ad.

Red Herring, with its rate base of 130,000, charges $16,895 for a color page; The Industry Standard, at a 100,000 rate base, sets ad rates for a similar page at just $12,700. That's before discounts kick in.

Many of the ads are from smaller companies with limited ad budgets, such as yesmail.com and OpenSite Technologies.

The 1990s have proven a prolific decade for Time Inc. launches; it now boasts a stable of 33 titles. President-CEO Don Logan has encouraged magazine group presidents to explore spinoff possibilities. Since 1990, a dozen new titles were established, including Coastal Living, In Style, Teen People, Time for Kids, Time Digital and This Old House.

Fortune, unlike People or Time, so far has resisted the urge, although it has started new business lines--conferences and newsletters.

Copyright June 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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