Fortune parties while Business 2.0 burns

Fortune's summer party, scheduled for today, has been postponed, ostensibly for weather reasons, as New York is under siege from a nor'easter. With sister publication Business 2.0 on the rocks, it might have been seemly to cancel it altogether. We've learned, however, that the all-day shindig has been rescheduled for tomorrow. So, as Fortune staffers party, Business 2.0 employees will continue huddling under a storm of their own. Rumors, true and false, are flying. (I should note that I'm covering this as a former Business 2.0 editor who worked at the magazine for seven years — but events are moving so fast that all of this comes from new reporting since I left, not any knowledge I acquired on the job.) Here's what I know, and what I don't know, so far:

The magazine is definitely shutting. Unconfirmed. The official line: Nothing's decided yet. Insiders, however, are behaving as if it's true. Freelancers have been told not to bother pitching stories for October and staffers are actively looking for other jobs. On the other hand, editor Josh Quittner is actively watching the "Save Business 2.0" Facebook group, which now has more than 1,500 members, including some high up in the Time-Life Building.

Even the September issue's not coming out. False. The paper's already bought, the printing plant's already booked, and subscribers are owed issues. Time Inc. wouldn't save any money by not printing it.

The vultures are descending. True. We hear Wired, Business 2.0's crosstown rival, has been trying to recruit from the magazine's ranks, as have other publications trying to staff up to cover the tech boom. Fortune, meanwhile, is hoping to retain some B2ers in the event of a closure to bolster its tech-reporting ranks. There's not, however, a definite list of B2 staffers Time Inc. intends to retain.

The office will be vacated August 3. False. Time Inc. has leased Business 2.0's offices at One California Street through 2010. Not clear, however, who will be occupying those offices. Some think it might make sense to put Time Inc. salespeople into the plusher digs at One California and move the journalists to Time Inc.'s drab cubicles in the nearby Embarcadero Center building.

Offers are coming in to buy the magazine. True. Since the Times published its article last week about B2's impending doom, more than a dozen potential buyers have expressed interest, some of them the predictable bargain-hunters but some respectable sorts. But Time Inc. management is in a no-win situation. If they sell Business 2.0 for a song, and someone else succeeds with the magazine, then they risk looking doubly stupid: First, for spending $68 million on the magazine back in 2001. And second, for not being able to turn a profit with it. For that reason alone, Time Inc.'s more likely to close B2 than sell it.