Peter Kafka

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Condé Nast Firing Most of Portfolio.com Staff

More cuts at Condé Nast: The publisher will fire most of the staff of its Portfolio.com Web site, which is run separately from its sister print publication. The site’s editorial staff of roughly two dozen will be shrunk down to “single digits,” says a source at the company. But Condé Nast managers haven’t told Portfolio.com staffers who’s staying and who’s going.

A second source says they’ve been told the staff will shrink down to three people and that a “plan would be worked out in the next couple of days.”

Also unclear: Which one of Condé’s digital units will end up adopting the Web site. Portfolio.com had been run as a standalone property. That made it a rarity at Condé, where most of magazines’ digital arms are run by its Magnet unit, and the rest are run by Sarah Chubb’s CondéNet group.

Confused? So are most Condé Nast staffers, who spend lots of time complaining about the publisher’s byzantine digital architecture. But you won’t hear them complaining too loudly right now–they’re trying to hang on to their jobs, or at least protect their exit packages.

Web site staffers were told about the cuts in a meeting led by General Manager Ari Brandt and publisher David Carey, who didn’t provide much detail, according to people who attended the meeting.

Portfolio.com staffers have been told they have been meeting their revenue goals for 2008 while the magazine has not. According to a person who attended the meeting, one of the staff’s braver souls asked Carey why the Web site was being punished more severely than the magazine.

“He gave a sort of corporate-speak answer, and what it appeared to boil down to is, is ‘This is a magazine company,’” says a person who attended the meeting. ”And it left the impression that the Web site was sacrificed to save the magazine.”

In a separate meeting, Portfolio magazine editor Joanne Lipman told her staff that the publication would cut some positions and publish 10 times a year instead of monthly.

UPDATE: A partial list of departing Portfolio staffers.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work