Business Standard, 5/27/09 - British billionaire Sir Richard Branson may get the
Playboy empire in the future as soft porn mogul and owner of the empire, Hugh
Hefner, is believed to be considering selling it off, according to media
The 83-year-old owner of America’s best-selling men’s glossy magazine could sell the company he founded more than 56 years ago for about $300 million, after its profits slumped in the face of free pornography on the Internet.
Though the company’s market capitalisation has sunk to around $100 million, Hefner is asking for three times that price in order to maintain his lavish lifestyle, the reports added.Two companies, Apollo Capital Partners and Providence Equity Partners, have been approached but declined to make an offer. Now, Branson’s Virgin Media is tipped to be a potential buyer, though no official interest has been expressed.
“Everyone says that he’ll (Hefner) never let go, that he’ll take it to his grave,” a source was quoted by the New York Post as saying.In its heyday in the 1970s, the glossy magazine with its bunny girls was read by a quarter of university students but the rise of the Internet, and with it — free pornography, has taken its toll on the magazine’s sales.It is still America’s best selling men’s magazine — and Hefner and his scantily-clad bunny girls are still a regular fixture on the party scene. But sales have dropped from seven million an issue in 1972 to around three million now.
And in the wake of recession, Playboy has introduced a strict cost-cutting regime and is reported to have laid off 25 per cent of its workforce in Los Angeles and New York.Hefner still controls 70 per cent of the company but his daughter Christine has stepped down as the chief operating officer and formally severed her ties at the company’s annual general meeting last week.
However, a Playboy spokesman denied it had received any offers, insisting there’re no changes to ownership afoot. However, he added that as a public company, Playboy would “listen to proposals that could create value for all of our shareholders”.
More Playboy News ...
Playboy Magazine Online
CNET News, 8/24/05 - Playboy plans to launch a digital version of its magazine next month, allowing readers to download over the Web the same content that's in the print version.
Readers will be able to subscribe to the online version starting with the October issue. They will also be able to purchase single copies of the digital magazine.
The company expects the digital magazine to appeal to a growing number of readers accustomed to consuming media online, particularly men between the ages of 18 and 34.
"There is a new generation of readers emerging, and advertising dollars are following--so expanding our online offerings makes sense," said Playboy spokeswoman Lauren Melone via e-mail.
Appealing to Internet advertisers, whose clout is growing, is also part of the equation. The company plans to incorporate ad-sponsored links in its new online product.
The digital version may also help Playboy keep a cap on distribution costs while adding new readers, the company said.
Playboy has hired Zinio Systems, a San Francisco start-up, to help launch and operate its online edition. Zinio offers digital versions of more than 300 other magazine titles, including BusinessWeek, Saveur, U.S. News and World Report, and Woman's Day. It began selling special issues of Playboy earlier this year. The company says it has more than 2 million paying subscribers from across the globe.
To view the digital version of Playboy, readers will have to download Zinio Reader, which is free. The software, which is compatible with both PCs and Macintosh machines, allows customers to navigate content via hyperlinks and text search, send copies to friends via e-mail, archive content, and zoom in on text and images. It's easy to imagine the last feature appealing to Playboy readers.
The company envisions adding other interactive features later. "Since a digitized version allows for interactive live content using rich media, you will probably see this feature incorporated into our editorial features in the future," Melone added.
Next Zinio and its publishing partners sell subscriptions to many titles at major discounts, but Playboy said its digital version will cost the same as the paper version.
The digital edition of Playboy is only the latest tech foray by the company. It sells adult-themed ring tones, images and games for mobile phones. The company also distributes free porn for iPods that have photo storage capabilities. More recently, Playboy launched a video game that lets players assume the identity of founder Hugh Hefner and throw virtual parties at his mansion.
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