Lessons: Vanguard Media Chairman Keith Clinkscales tells MediaPost’s Larry Dobrow that shutting down its three magazines and seeking bakruptcy protection, was in no way a reflection of the vibrancy of the markets it served. “Rather, he emphasized that the difficulty in raising money during a tenuous economic climate – rather than advertiser or reader response – ultimately led to the company’s demise.”
This article is a must-read for would-be magazine entrepreneurs. There is no person in the magazine industry more impressive and magnetic that Clinkscales. His magazines were quality products that served an appreciative audience. He had a great staff and supportive (to a limit) financial backers.
In the article, Clinkscales identifies what he believes to be the true culprit. “We had some errors and decisions made during the dot- com era that we never fully exorcised out of our cost structure,” he explained. “Basically, our plans called for growth during a time when there wasn’t much room for growth.”
As this is what happened to large and small media companies alike (Primedia, Penton, AOL-Time), there is no reason to believe that he is not correct in his appraisal. I would imagine also, there are probably other factors related to lack of fiscal discipline during an economic downturn that would have been mere bumps had the recovery kicked in earlier.
By shedding the debt associated with that flawed cost structure, I feel certain that Clinkscales & Co. can no doubt find its way to future success, perhaps even with the shuttered titles.
Lots of lessons here. Stay tuned.