Can Anyone Make Ziff Davis Sexy?
Publishing folk still shake their heads in disbelief over how buyout firm Willis Stein & Partners flipped Petersen Cos., a middling magazine group including such titles as Hot Rod and Motor Trend, for a cool $1 billion profit just 2 1/2 years after buying it. That was a year ago. Now, Willis Stein is out to work some more media alchemy, shelling out $780 million to buy Ziff-Davis Publishing, whose big titles PC Computing and PC Magazine have been slumping amid the Net explosion. What are these low-profile Chicagoans on to now? "When they asked Wayne Gretzky when he retired what made him such a great hockey player, he said, `Most people skate to where the puck is. I skate to where the puck is going to be,"' says partner Avy H. Stein. "And that's what we try to do."
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