Mike Perlis: Forbes’ Digital Dynamo

Mike Perlis’ current job — CEO of Forbes Media — is not as titillating as a previous position: running the Playboy Publishing Group. But the 1971 Staples grad is successful wherever he goes.

In a Business Day story published yesterday, the New York Times said the “soft-spoken and folksy chief executive” has spent the past 3 years  “transforming the company from a financially troubled family business into an enterprise that has moved aggressively to embrace the new digital landscape.”

Mike Perlis

Mike Perlis

Perlis — “the first nonfamily member to run Forbes Media since its founding in 1917” —  has rehired 28 former employees; helped expand marketing; built a network of 1200 bloggers; more than doubled the number of Forbes’s annual conference; licensed some of its software, and lent its name and content to a business school willing to pay for the brand.

Steve Forbes praised, “He brought the right temperament to an organization that at the time was 93 years old. But he’s not going to be the bull in the china shop.”

Former colleague Kenneth Lerer added, “He’s doing what needs to be done. For the traditionalist, it is a gamble. But I don’t see there is another option.”

Critics say the Westport native’s reliance on freelancers “is eroding Forbes’s once strong journalism.”

The piece offers interesting insights into the Forbes brand, and business media in general.

Though it’s illustrated a lot less interestingly than it would have been at Perlis’ former magazine.

(To read the entire Times story, click here.)

3 responses to “Mike Perlis: Forbes’ Digital Dynamo

  1. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    Don’t for one minute believe that anyone who ever knew Mike is surprised by what he has accomplished in a hypercompetitive business. He is what he is and has always been: a true “good guy’ who is good at anything he does and kind to all. I remember him from childhood/young adulthood as being the life of the party and always surrounded by enthusiastic friends.

  2. I loved the “folksy” description. I too knew Mike going back to Coleytown El days and he was always well liked and considered a really good guy–so, in contrast to Leo Durocher’s famous saying, Mike has demonstrated that nice guys can indeed finish first.

  3. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Much work to catch up with The Economist.