Monday, July 11, 2005

Joe Mansueto Affirms it in Print: His Purchases are For Real

Generally the last page of the business section in our local paper gains a cursory glance from me most mornings, so it was interesting this morning to see there a full page ad from Joe Mansueto, CEO of Morningstar, underscoring that his interest in purchasing the magazines "Inc." and "Fast Company" is far from passing. The headline for the ad blares, "OF COURSE THESE MAGAZINES ARE AN INVESTMENT FOR ME. BUT IF THAT'S ALL THEY WERE, I WOULD HAVE NEVER HAVE WRITTEN THE CHECK." The ad goes on to explain the deep respect for these magazines that he gained in his own entrepreneurial efforts and that he's committed to serving the needs of their advertising clients. I find the general media reaction to this deal to be rather strange, as if someone who wasn't considered a "member of the club" deigned to pick up some very attractive titles and was certain to throw things into chaos.

Joe Mansueto is an entrepreneur who took his company Morningstar from a pipe dream to the leading source of investment information on mutual funds for individual investors, as well as a leading source of investment information and tools for professional portfolio managers. This company was, of course, based on an online database, which may be the source of much of the anxiety. Database publishers have a notably different culture than magazine publishers, so perhaps the magazine culture was viewing this as the "revenge of the online publishers." If so, what falderol. When you have an owner whos committed strongly to servicing the needs of a leading-edge audience and who is well attuned to serving them in online and print formats, you have little to lose. Sorry you had to take out the ad, Joe. Hopefully the "country club" set will adjust in time.
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