This is a preview of Editor-in-Chief Mark Hoyer’s Up Front column from the December, 2011, issue.
Hopefully, over the last couple of years, you’ve been reading Cycle World in print and on the web and enjoying our efforts to give you the very best stories, photos and videos in motorcycling. That’s been the singular goal of the entire staff here at the magazine.
But, as for many businesses over the past few years, the road has been a bumpy one. While I typically don’t get into the business of our magazine business (like you, I’m really only here because of the motorcycles and the people who ride them), I’m too happy about what’s going on not to talk about it. The CW audience is part of our extended moto family, so I am glad to be in a position to share.
Cycle World has a new home. After nearly 25 years with our former parent company, Hachette Filipacchi Media, we were sold earlier this year to Hearst Magazines which, in turn, has sold us to Bonnier Corporation, publishers of some 50 titles.
Of course, this is not the first time Cycle World has been sold. Founding publisher Joe Parkhurst sold CW to CBS in the early Seventies. In the late Eighties, it was bought by Diamandis Communications and quickly resold to Hachette Magazines in 1988.
In recent years with Hachette, circumstances were far from ideal. The economic meltdown led to cuts at the corporate level and resources got tight. So, while CW is the largest motorcycle publishing brand, when we were compared with the more general consumer publications in the company (circulation in the millions as opposed to our hundreds of thousands), we were quite small, making it difficult to compete for attention.
This made us somewhat relieved early in the year to find out that Hearst Magazines had acquired CW, along with the rest of Hachette’s worldwide publishing operations. But while there was quite a bit of fanfare about the purchase and the global extension of Hearst’s reach, CW was notably absent from the press releases. Which was roughly coincident with me being informed that they weren’t going to keep us. In some respects, it was a little disappointing because Hearst is a well-run, professional operation with an impressive list of magazines (and many other media outlets, from TV to radio to newspapers) stacked with talent and resources.
But, despite being a very large motorcycle magazine, we simply weren’t big enough to pay the rent, so to speak, in Hearst’s gargantuan consumer-magazine operation. I saw the company’s building in New York, and it’s pretty nice… This was when I had breakfast with the CEO of Hearst Magazines, David Carey, during the sales process for CW. He, like the company itself, demonstrated professionalism and humanity during the entire span of Hearst’s short ownership, and they were completely respectful of the history and quality of CW.
But after discussing the scale of Hearst’s business and knowing where CW stands in relation to it, the decision to sell made a lot of sense. Particularly for us. And I cannot tell you how much I appreciated the honesty and swiftness of their decision.
The sales process was really interesting and quite a bit of fun. There were multiple bidders with diverse backgrounds, each with a different emphasis in their respective business and each with a slightly different take on how CW could be a part of their success.
But Bonnier was by far the best fit. The company publishes Field & Stream, Outdoor Life and all the TransWorld titles (Motocross, Surf, SKATEboarding, among others), plus Popular Science and several former Hachette titles, such as Flying, Boating and Sound + Vision (consumer electronics).
The best news so far, though, is that our group publisher, Eric Zinczenko, is not only a man of action (Ironman competitor, sky- and scuba diver, hunter, alpine climber), he’s also a long-time fan of CW and a motorcycle racer and rider.
“I’ve had a series of bikes from Honda and Kawasaki over the years,” says Zinczenko. “My current bikes are a 2007 ZX-10R for the street and a fully safety-wired 2004 Honda CBR600RR with Öhlins for the track. I have been to the Schwantz School at Road Atlanta, where I got my AMA provisional license and entered the novice category.”
Given his other interests and work schedule, Zinczenko has raced infrequently and found, like a lot of us, track days (in the expert group, I would like to add) are a better way “to get as many laps as possible.”
One of his heroes is Valentino Rossi, and one of his dreams in life is “to race a motorcycle around the great circuits of Europe, like Mugello, Jerez or Catalunya.”
My favorite part of our exchange?
“I’ve only had one good launch—highside—in my time, but also a few slides over the years…”
I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to have a boss who’s highsided. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s got a really strong résumé in publishing, too.
So, while it’s been difficult, particularly over the last few months, to listen to all the forum chatter and bloggers make things up about “Cycle World going out of business,” I am here to tell you we are strong and healthy and ready to do more than ever for you, our readers. Because the bottom line is that the product is only going to get better.
This is great news to have on the cusp of the January, 2012, issue, marking 50 years of Cycle World.
During my time as the editor here, I’ve always tried to think about what Joe Parkhurst (who passed in December, 2000) would do and how he would feel about the current state of the publication he founded back in January of 1962. What Joe would do now is look at the new resources, expertise and passion available to us, and figure out how to best put them to use to tell the best stories in motorcycling. And how would he feel? I think he would smile with that enthusiastic sparkle in his eye and raise a glass to our new home. After a long ride, of course.
Click here to read the official press release.