The bespectacled magazine publisher, who ran the New Yorker's marketing and ad sales before being roped in to help Joanne Lipman launch Portfolio, has done better than merely surviving the new year's massacre at Conde Nast. He's now the leading candidate to replace Chuck Townsend as chief executive of the elite magazine group. Nobody wins corporate infighting without making critics but, if Carey has them, we can't find them. "Everyone wishes there was some dirt on David Carey, but there ain't," says one Conde exec. The Portfolio publisher doesn't even get the blame for the business magazine's troubled launch.

He's just a severe type A personality, he's always on, a real man in a hurry. Obviously a strategic thinker. The one irony of Portfolio was that it was one of the rare cases I've seen where a publisher has a clearer vision for the brand and product than the editor. Before Joanne was hired, Carey articulated a vision for the magazine — an indispensable, knowing tool for top executives, top-notch substance with a luxury veneer — that would have silenced the critics if it had been executed.