Hugh Hefner makes private offer to Playboy shareholders
Ancient grumble mag publisher fights the internet
Hugh Hefner, 84-year old founder of Playboy wants to buy back the company and take it private, with a bit of help from the bank.
Actually Hefner said he's got backing from Rizvi Traverse to buy back the group for £120m. The investment group is "highly confident ample financial resources will be available to complete the transaction."
He's offering $5.50 for every share he doesn't already own. Hefner owns 69.5 per cent of Class A stock and 27.7 per cent of Class B stock.
Hefner has written to the board of Playboy Enterprises, Inc to share his concerns about the editorial direction of the magazine, the brand and, we are told, the "legacy".
The company is made up of the entertainment group which deals with the TV, radio and film products. The print digital group deals with the US and international editions of the grumble mag as well as playboy.com. Finally the licensing group punts Playboy logos to assorted nasty tracksuit and pencil case manufacturers.
The Hef has been knocking out magazines since late 1953. It claims 1.5m subscribers in the US.
But he might face a battle from old enemy Penthouse - for so long the two were the yin and yang of dead tree-based titillation. The arch rival to Playboy bought Adult Friend Finder for $500m back in 2007 - evidence of its more aggressive approach to new technology - and is said to be working on its own offering.
In contrast Playboy did offer the waiting world its first 3D centrefold in March. ®
Ah, the legacy!
And the breastacy and shapely bottomacy too!
They published the essays by Arthur C. Clarke that later formed his "Profiles of the Future". They published stories by Ray Bradbury and Ian Fleming. They interviewed Norman Mailer and Barbra Streisand.
I cannot, however, envisage Playboy returning to its past glories no matter who is in control of it.
Not so much because of the amount of porn on the Internet, but because its niche - something that is at once tasteful and yet does accept titillation as one of its purposes - has been rendered hard to comprehend, at least in the United States, as a consequence of the rise of feminism. In other cultures, Playboy's desperate fight to be taken seriously because male sexuality has never been delegitimized in those cultures as much as in the United States.
The "kind of man that reads Playboy", according to the advertisements for advertisers, might indeed have read it in 1963 - but since even reading Playboy is a furtive pleasure in today's climate, the less tasteful stuff drives it out much as crack cocaine drove out the powder that some claimed wasn't even addicting when they're both illegal.
Given that certain retail outlets in the U.S. have levelled the playing field by banning Maxim from their shelves along with Playboy, going after Esquire's turf won't work either.
Byte had its day, and Wired is filling its niche quite well; that's probably how far Playboy would have to be reinvented to be relevant, to be about something entirely different from beautiful women - as different as computers.
Maybe Harry Pearson could use a source of new investment capital? Music Lover: Entertainment for Golden Ears? After all, expensive hi-fi equipment was part of the Playboy lifestyle... and Playboy has an annual Sex and Music issue, so they acknowledge music satisfies a significant drive as well.
Paper based Pr0n?
They have 1.5 Million subscribers.
What I wouldn't give for that list. 1.5 million people who are not tech savvy enough to realize you can get all the free pr0n you want on the internet. Now there is a valuable list.
Paris for obvious reasons.