Adweek checks in with Time Out founder Tony Elliott, whose tale is a classic rise and fall and (perhaps) rise again.
It tells how Elliott created a media empire, only to see it fall apart because of his inability to control spending, turn a profit, and see the coming importance of the digital revolution.
He and his company had survived an onslaught of new print listings rivals, but the Web caught Elliott flat-footed. Time Out New York didn’t even have a website when it launched, and when one was started, it had only one dedicated staffer. In the meantime, websites like Citysearch and established publications like The Village Voice figured out how to take TONY‘s listings business and make it work online, and the pioneer was left in their dust.
He was forced to sell the majority of his franchise to Oakley Capital but believes his company can turn things around. They are preparing to launch digital editions in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, and Washington, D.C., — Elliott wishes he launched Times Out Chicago in the same manner instead of going to a print product — and hope to have 50 editions by 2013. It’s an ambitious plan, but there is money in local advertising and Elliott has figured out how to make it before. (Of course, there’s more competition now, and even the print product is losing ad pages.)
One surprising note in the story: Elliott says he was twice approached by Conde Nast for a partnership but turned them down both times. Now he wishes he hadn’t.
“Had Conde Nast become our partners, I think we would have been in a completely different place,” he says.
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