Did Business 2.0 die a natural death? Or was it murdered? The story told so far about the tech-focused, San Francisco-based magazine's demise was an abrupt drop in advertising. But in his MediaShift column, Mark Glaser suggests that a poorly planned business-side reorganization by its parent company, Time Inc., is more to blame. Combining Business 2.0's salesforce with that of Fortune and Money led not to the expected boost in ads, but a drop that hit all the magazines, with Business 2.0 — where, I should disclose, I worked before joining Valleywag — the most vulnerable. The most intriguing tidbit: Glaser reports that TechCrunch, run by Michael Arrington, explored a merger with Business 2.0. Arrington, in a blog post, confirms the rumor, and, intriguingly, suggests that Time Inc. was "proactive in destroying" the magazine to favor Fortune.
Arrington is being far too generous in that murder scenario, I believe. He gives the executives at Time Inc. more credit for strategic thinking than they deserve. With the damage done, however, they faced a pragmatic choice of spending money to revive Business 2.0's ad sales, or reinvesting in Fortune, which now faces serious competition from Conde Nast's Portfolio. Can you blame them for making what was, to them, the safer bet?
New York-based media has never understood the Valley well, parachuting reporters in during the boom times, and abandoning it during the inevitable bust. (How long do you think Fortune's newly expanded San Francisco bureau, swollen with Business 2.0 refugees, will last during the next downturn?) That Time Inc. didn't know what to make of Business 2.0 isn't surprising. It's typical.