G&J announces acquisition of 'Fast Company'

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Today at Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing's midtown Manhattan headquarters, the magazine company hosted a series of press briefing that announced their acquisition of Mort Zuckerman's new-economy magazine Fast Company. Terms were not disclosed.

Though often identified as a boom book for the just-ended dot-com era, Dan Brewster, Gruner & Jahr's president and CEO, said Fast Company derived only 8 percent of its advertising from dot coms--less, he said, than many consumer magazines. He added the title would post profits of $20 million in 2000 and that the company expected to double that in 2001--which would be no mean feat in a year when a widespread ad slowdown is expected and at least one top magazine company expects flat ad-page growth. The title will remain based in Boston with its founding co-editors Bill Taylor and Alan Webber at the helm. Boston is also home to Inc., the small-business magazine G&J scored in June for $200 million, but Mr. Brewster said the ad and edit staffs would remain separate, though the titles will eventually move into the same building. Axel Ganz, president of G&J's international magazine division, spoke of the prospect of launching an English-language version of Fast Company for the overall European market, as well as local editions in France and Germany. The company was mum on a timetable for such moves.

The acquisiton broadens G&J USA's consumer base further away from the parenting and women's categories and adds younger, affluent men to its mix. G&J was an early bidder for the male-skewing portfolio of Times Mirror Magazines group that ultimately went to Time Inc. for $475 million--a figure that looks to be on the lowest end of the combined prices of Inc. And Fast Company. But Mr. Brewster dismissed the appeal of the Times Mirror group, calling it "a bunch of little pieces" with less bottom-line impact than his two new titles. Mr. Brewster also said G&J USA was "postponing" another acquisition "until we digest what we've done."

--Jon Fine

Copyright December 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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