Thoughts on the Business 2.0 Demise

Bloggers far and wide have weighed in on the death of Business 2.0 magazines. So much so that I thought a round-up of commentary was in order. See excerpts from posts and essays about the death of a well-loved read, and follow the links to read the pieces in full.

Digital Phocus:

With writer’s such as Om Malik, a nice network of blogs
and a strong focus on all things tech and business, the magazine really
hit a sweet spot for me. Working in business development in technology
and media, their coverage of industry changes, new companies and
developing business models was always much appreciated.

Now, I can’t help but wonder, “Who will fill the void?”  BusinessWeek devotes coverage to tech as does Fortune,
but tech is only a small subset of what they attempt to cover. And when
events such as the Sub-prime mess occur, you won’t see more than an
article devoted to this constantly evolving industry.

Some suggest that Fast Company offers an alternative.  While I find it innovative and creative, it seems to focus more on a wide swath of topics…

Word Sell, Inc:

A renewal notice from a publication that just announced it is
ceasing publication! I wonder if this is accidental or intentional.
Does Time Warner wants to cushion the blow by scooping up some quick
cash from uninformed subscribers? Doubtful. More likely a case of
internal communication disconnects.

And speaking of disconnects, what’s up with a tech savvy publication
trying to entice subscribers with something as cheesy as a free
“Executive Pen”? Doesn’t Time Warner know 2.0 readers expect something
a little more cutting edge than a pen? It’s like Apple offering new
iPhone customers a free toaster.



[S]oon enough, 2.0 began getting slapped on anything to give it a quick, hip sheen. The trend took a hit with the demise of Business 2.0, but is hardly dead. For me, it reached its nadir when I got an e-mail from the self-described “Napkin Man” announcing “Napkin 2.0,”
which apparently involves “high-definition napkins” (shown here)
imprinted with ad messages. Not content with the 2.0 by itself, Napkin
Man goes on to explain that Napkin 2.0 is “viral.” Though I really hope
people don’t share napkins. That’s not 2.0; that’s gross.

Business 2.0 had great times, but this year, its revenue practically
dissipated. This is somewhat ironic considering that an entirely new
Web 2.0 economy had finally gathered enough momentum to sustain the
life of Business 2.0, and even Red Herring, but alas it wasn’t meant to

This is not unlike what other print publications will face in the near future however.

Executives at Time Inc. gave the pub and its employees a two month
reprieve while it entertained offers from Fast Company publisher
Mansueto Ventures among others. Hey, with a 623,000 name-circulation
list, you might think that someone would value it enough to pay a
premium. However, Time decided that it would rather let that list
evaporate than give it to a competitor.

Jeff Jarvis:

If there ever was a magazine that should have been primarily online and primarily a community, it was Business 2.0. But no, it’s dead now. And that’s a shame.

Why the hell it didn’t start online or transition to online is
beyond me. Business 2.0 should not have been a product but a community;
it could have been the magazine that shows how that’s done.

Mark Glaser:

To best understand the final demise of Business 2.0, you need to go back to April 2006 when Time Inc. announced with great fanfare
a new Business and Finance Network that combined the sales forces of
Fortune, Money, Fortune Small Business and Business 2.0 magazines,
along with the online portal.
The idea was to have a unified group selling all the titles so there
would be less overhead costs and a simpler pitch to advertisers from
one person instead of four.

But for Business 2.0, the Time Inc. strategy was the kiss of death.
The magazine lost its dedicated sales force, and Fortune salespeople
were less interested in selling Business 2.0 than Fortune. Worse yet,
the people who could have made the new strategy succeed — the magazine
publishers atop each publication — were demoted to regional sales staff
positions, demoralizing them, according to one former longtime Business
2.0 staffer. (The former employee would only speak to me without
attribution because of the sensitivity of the subject.)


I first heard about Business 2.0 in 1998 when I saw a billboard on
the 101 freeway near South San Francisco that advertised it, before the
first issue came out. In 2001 it was sold to Time Warner, who’ve done
little to grow the brand, and some say they were somewhat proactive in destroying it, always favoring the (in my opinion) sterile business magazine Fortune.

The magazine was one of the first major media publications to cover TechCrunch, exactly one year ago in an article written by Paul Sloan and Paul Kaihla. That article, by the way, was the source of the infamous images
of me smoking a cigar and burning $100 bills (I’ve since learned that
you don’t actually have to do what the photographer tells you to do).

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About Michelle Ryan

Michelle Ryan is obsessed with good food, great shoes and Alabama football way down South in Savannah, Georgia. She hasn’t met a kitchen gadget she hasn’t at least thought about buying (trying them is another story) and devotes her time to Bikram Yoga, baking and trying to overcome long-held finicky eating habits.