Private Frazer on the fate of Future:
Future’s future apparently lies in “the virtuous circle of engagement in two core content areas: reviews (when consumers are looking to make product purchase decisions and where we can derive ecommerce revenues) and ‘how to’ opportunities (when consumers want to learn more and are prepared to pay us to help them do so)”.
Take your pick as to whether the latest twist is the start of the”virtuous circle” or just another turn in the death spiral, but whatever happens, Future won’t be in the ‘print’ business in five years time. It will either be broken up and sold, or will be a completely different type of company.
15 years ago, Future was an absolute powerhouse of consumer publishing. There’s still some very good people there.
But I’ve had a lot of friends and colleagues who worked there over the years (indeed, I used to freelance for them in the 90s), and the tales they tell are of a company that just didn’t take the internet seriously enough early enough, and a whole raft of bad management decisions that just compounded that problem. It’s hard not to be angry, really, as this was once one of our great innovative publishers.
Reading between the lines of the corporate speak strategy, it suggests that someone in there has the right basic idea: that online consumer publishing is as much about evergreen stock content than it is “news” in any conventional sense, and that you can potentially build a good business there.
I wish them luck with it.
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