Portfolio, the $125m 'Vogue for the business set', folds in face of slump

It was meant to be Vanity Fair or Vogue for the international business set, a chunky monthly tome crammed to its glossy gills with ads for expensive watches, private jets and second or third homes. But, with the international business elite on their knees, amid the wreckage of the credit crisis, it is closing time too for Portfolio magazine, launched just two years ago by luxury publishers Condé Nast.

The magazine's 85 staff were told yesterday that there would be no more publications, that the lavish budget – promised two years ago and whittled down like the stock market ever since – had run out, and the company could sustain no more losses.

Its spectacular arc, from glitzy launch to grisly demise, mirrors exactly that of the businessfolk it was aimed at, the Masters of the Universe on Wall Street and the world of hedge funds who were raking in seven-, eight- or nine-figure bonuses as their industry revelled in the boom of cheap credit.

It was a natural group for Condé Nast to want to lure. With Vogue, the company was publishing the official bible of the high fashion world; Vanity Fair was on the coffee table of all at the pinnacle of high society. By courting the new elite of high finance, it would complete a powerful triumvirate.

Si Newhouse lured Joanne Lipman from The Wall Street Journal to edit the thing, and she was given a reported $125m budget that made Portfolio the most costly magazine launch ever. At the Journal, she had created a lifestyle section that stood out from the rest of the staid newspaper as much for its massive haul in ad revenue as for its colour and glamour.

Portfolio launched with a long essay on the new Masters of the Universe by Tom Wolfe, author of Bonfire of the Vanities, the quintessential novel of the Eighties' Wall Street boom, and it continued to offer big-name interviews and insights into swanky lifestyles. Yet it never fully stood out from slightly inkier rivals, such as BusinessWeek and Forbes. And as the bottom fell out of the credit markets there began to be something slightly unseemly about a glossy business magazine.

More importantly, advertisers were cutting back and so were the executives, hedge fund stars and entrepreneurs that Portfolio liked to think of as its natural readership. Circulation for the second half of last year was 449,005, but many copies were being given away. By last October, the magazine cut publication from 12 to 10 issues a year and Condé Nast gutted staffing of the vastly expensive Portfolio.com.

Those who remained thought that had at least bought them until the second half of this year but ad pages in Portfolio declined 46 per cent in the first three months of 2009, compared to 26 for the rest of the industry.

"While the unprecedented nature of these times has made business and the economy the main topic of conversation, it has also led to high levels of uncertainty and a tremendous reduction in ad spend in sectors Portfolio depends on," David Carey, group publisher of the titles that include Portfolio, in an email to staff.

For the myriad critics who chimed in during the launch, yesterday's closure is sweet schadenfreude.

For Condé Nast, the debacle comes on the Jimmy Choo heels of the closure of its chic lifestyle title Domino and the axing of the German Vanity Fair. Like the billionaire set it was courting, those at the top of the publishing food chain are having to watch the pennies too.

Executive crisis Luxury casualties

*The private jet manufacturer Cessna laid off 2,800 workers last week. Hoping to rekindle the macho executive market, a recent ad read: "Timidity didn't get you this far. True visionaries will continue to fly."



*The Leading Hotels Of The World now lead by less: their members had 10 per cent fewer bookings last year. With a quarter of business coming from corporate clients, the future looks grim.



*LVMH, owners of the handbag and champagne brands Louis Vuitton and Dom Perignon, suffered a nasty seven per cent drop in sales in the last quarter. "There is not much to celebrate these days so the demand is not that great," an executive ruefully explained.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
John Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
books
Arts and Entertainment
filmSir Ian McKellen will play retired detective in new film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Web / Digital Analyst - Google Analytics, Omniture

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Sales Perfomance Manager. Marylebone, London

£45-£57k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

Social Media Director (Global) - London Bridge/Southwark

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Social Media Director (Gl...

Personal and Legal Assistant – Media and Entertainment

£28,000 - £31,000: Sauce Recruitment: A Global media business based in West Lo...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil