“Charles Dubow, the lifestyle editor or Forbes.com, has quit Forbes and is moving to BusinessWeek. The move is more significant than it might appear because Dubow’s lifestyle stories are a key profit driver for the Forbes brand. Forbes.com bills itself as the world’s number one source of business news. But the vast majority of Forbes.com’s readers arrive at the site somewhat accidentally via links, and a large part of this traffic is from what Forbes.com’s executive editor calls “wealth porn” —- and much of that is generated by Dubow. It’s the regular “slide shows,” pictorials of the “most expensive houses,” the “most expensive cars,” and even the “best topless beaches.” These stories get prominent play on AOL and elsewhere —- and the AOL users are morphed into “Forbes readers.” Dubow was most responsible for making this happen for Forbes.com, which made the site quite profitable. Now he is taking his act to BusinessWeek.”
I hired Charles in 1995 after asking Forbes FYI editor Christopher Buckley for some recommendations for a lifestyle editor for Forbes.com. Lifestyle — essentially the lives of the rich and famous and powerful — has always been a big differentiator for Forbes from its competitors, genetically embedded by the late Malcolm Forbes’ joie de vivre, balloons, collections, harleys, etc.
Charles is a genius at building online content. His additions and contributions to Forbes.com, as the Gawker item above correctly states, was the solid backbone of expanding Forbes’ audience far beyond what the print brand deserved with its emphasis on business news and chronicles of the corporate leadership of the world. Charles intuitively understood audience development — how to hook people in and then get them clicking, over and over through interactive slide shows of mega houses, luxury vehicles, fashion …. you name it, Charles invented it.
Not to second guess the management at Forbes.com, but they just lost a secret weapon to an online brand that is coming on very strong after a decade of inactivity. Fortune blew it in my opinion by folding itself under CNN Money, but Businessweek, thanks to its emphasis on blogs, is on a roll, and I know from discussions with Reuters over a year ago that they too have their sights set on taking some marketshare away from Forbes.
With some nostalgia, Charles’ was one of the few remaining founding fathers of Forbes.com, back in the heady days of launching, of Adam Penenberg and Kambiz Faroohar breaking the New Republic/Shattered Glass scandal, and now, all that remains is Michael Noer, the founding managing editor now running special projects.
Good luck to Charles and congratulations to McGraw Hill for having the wisdom to snag him.