AOL Time Warner Gets Down to Business 2.0

Following months of discussion, AOL Time Warner’s Time Inc. unit said
Thursday that it would purchase ailing new economy business magazine
Business 2.0 from its publisher Future Network.

Neither company would disclose the amount of the purchase, though sources
close to the deal confirm that it was well below earlier offers AOL had made
to Future Network — evincing the U.K.-based publisher’s eagerness to drop
the magazine, following continued weakness in the technology advertising
market.

Time said it would merge biweekly Business 2.0 into its Fortune
Group, with the year-old monthly eCompany Now, with the goal of
relaunching the combined monthly magazine in September under the title
Business 2.0 and with a subscriber base of about 550,000.

Prior to the acquisition, eCompany Now published monthly, with a
circulation of 375,000, up from 200,000 when it launched in June 2000.
Business 2.0 was publishing a biweekly magazine with a circulation of
350,000.

While Business 2.0 — like most other Internet and new
economy-focused publications — had been hard hit by the slowdown in
advertising spending from defunct dot-coms and cash-strapped technology
firms, Time Inc. said that its eCompany Now publication has been
performing successfully.

The company didn’t give specifics of that performance, but attributed a
good deal of it to promotion across other properties owned by corporate
parent AOL Time Warner. Since its launch last summer, AOL had pushed
eCompany Now on several of its Web properties and its America Online
service, which it said helped generate a million pageviews monthly.

Consequently, AOL said it would also support the launch of the revamped
Business 2.0 with special promotions, links, and content support
across America Online and its associated properties.

“Our success with eCompany Now has convinced us that there is a
vibrant community of readers for a ‘next-generation business magazine,’ one
with a different perspective and attitude than the more traditional business
books,” said Fortune Group editor John Huey. “Drawing on the resources of
Time Inc. and AOL Time Warner, we are wholly committed to making Business
2.0
the voice of this business market, and number one in its space, just
as Fortune is the leader in its category. Our journalists see this as
a great opportunity to continue developing a distinctive approach to new
kinds of business coverage.”

The new publication will be headed by Ned Desmond, who will go from
editor and president of eCompany Now to hold the same positions at
Business 2.0.

AOL didn’t specify whether there would be additional cuts made from the
80-or-so editors remaining at Business 2.0 — the publication has had
several rounds of layoffs to date — though a source at eCompany Now
said the publication already is “pretty much staffed to where [the
publishers] want it to be.”

Nevertheless, the Future Network’s founder, Chris Anderson, said in a
statement that “everyone associated with Business 2.0 should feel
great pride in today’s announcement.”

“In just three years, a major brand has been built,” he added. “As part
of Time Inc. and The Fortune Group, Business 2.0 has assured its own
future as one of America’s most influential and valuable business
magazines.”

While Anderson is right in that Business 2.0, over its two-year
history, has become one of the more recognizable new economy business
publications, it’s still cold comfort to any staffers who don’t make the cut.

The purchase is subject to various closing conditions, including
regulatory approval, AOL said.

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