Conde Nast is nothing if not a contrarian publisher at times, so it's not out character for them to be launching Portfolio, a new business magazine that is loaded with business advertisers new to Conde Nast publications, according to The New York Times. Portfolio covers serious business issues but it does so with a focus and style reminiscent of the chatty and sometimes catty fashion and lifestyle publications for which it is best known. While Portfolio may seem a fish out of water to more traditional news publications it's actually a very clever play at an interesting time. Print appeals very well to those on the very high end of the economic scale, a fashion statement of sorts that speaks to the exclusive circles in which major executives find themselves. Why fritter with Twitter when you can relax on your G6 business jet with a copy of Portfolio next to your spouse's copy of Architectural Digest? It's an out-Forbes-ing of of Forbes' already elite outlook and a direct poke in the eye to McGraw-Hill's increasingly online-oriented BusinessWeek property.
At the same time, though, there's quite a bit to be said for the Portfolio portal as well. Yes, it's not armed with in-depth data and other tools found typically on business information Web sites but it does have absolutely top-notch graphics and layout and a five-story top news summary that cuts to the chase with very brief summaries that accompany more in-depth features. Features include profiles of key executives, a roundup of clubhouse figures one is likely to encounter in the most elite social circles. It's not clear that many of Portfolio's print subscribers are likely to spend much time at the publication's online site but if they do they should feel comfortable browsing through its generously spaced and well-designed pages. There aren't many publishers who can deliver business information as a lifestyle publication of this sort and once there's one publication of this kind there aren't likely to be substitute products that will elbow their way into such a rarefied niche. Kudos to Conde Nast for recognizing an opportunity that plays to its strengths - for now.