The Future of Fast Company: Part II

"The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us.
Only that day dawns to which we are awake.
There is more day to dawn.
The sun is but a morning star."

So wrote Henry David Thoreau in Walden some 150 years ago. And with today's news that Fast Company and Inc. have been purchased by a quintessential entrepreneur, I find those lines as inspiring and fitting as ever. They are the four sentences that end Thoreau's classic reflection in the woods, the words that inspired our new owner, Joe Mansueto, to name his own company, Morningstar, 21 years ago.

We could not have conjured up a better angel. Fast Company and Inc. are magazines about innovation and entrepreneurship. They should be owned by an innovative entrepreneur. Joe is that person, a visionary who founded his company in a one-bedroom apartment with $80,000 in personal savings. He is a five-time Inc. 500 winner, and a Fast Company idealist and maverick. In Morningstar, he has built an ideal community of people, a culture defined by Thoreau's values of simplicity, independence, and thrift. He brought Morningstar, the mutual fund ratings and research concern, public earlier this year using an online Dutch auction—just like Google.

Like Warren Buffett, one of Joe's heroes, Mansueto is a contrarian investor, savvy enough to buy at the bottom of a market. For him the attraction was clear: the opportunity to get two very powerful brands with strong management, highly talented staffs, and a core of loyal and engaged readers. Without the unrealistic demands for quick returns on private equity or the typical short-term focus of a major corporation, Joe can invest in a long-term future. It helps immensely that he loves magazines and business and that Morningstar is at heart a publisher, too. And his very first message to me made clear that his number one priority is to "make sure we create the best magazine possible."

Joe plans to be an investor here, not a publisher or a CEO. He puts his faith in the teams in place, gets out of their way, and empowers them to do their best. We are so very lucky to have him aboard. We're thrilled that he shares and lives Fast Company's values and mission: "Fast Company is for people who are passionate about their work and want to do it better. Our readers are leaders, innovators and business builders who are driven to succeed by working and leading differently. They see work as a source of personal growth and an opportunity to make a positive impact on the world around them."

Our job, our very personal and creative job, is to help our readers lead more meaningful and productive work lives by giving them the ideas, the tools, and the inspiration to do their absolute best. And in an increasingly competitive world where the people with the best ideas and skills win, Fast Company is more relevant than ever.

Despite premature reports of our passing, I can only say, There is more day to dawn. The sun is indeed a morning star.

I want to thank all of our readers and our advertisers for their continued support and encouragement. Your kind and supportive words during this last month have meant a lot to all of us.

John A. Byrne
Editor-in-Chief
Fast Company

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18 Comments

  • Rick Heltne

    As as sometimes reader of this blog and Fast Company, the magazine, I am pleased to hear of the recent developments tht seem to ensure that Fast Company will remain a contributor to the wrld of innovation and free thinking.

    The world of faith based non-profits in which I have served over the past years has benefited greatly from the insights of the writers and editors of Fast Company. Keep up the excellent work!

  • Johan F. Jakhelln

    I greatly enjoy and benefit from Fast Company which I - through my work as an HR advisor and coach - recommend to others "over here" on a regular basis. Hope the new ownership will ensure long term sustainability and keep Fast Company and all around it at the forefront, day after day after day....!

    Johan F. Jakhelln
    Oslo, Norway

  • Nate Burgos

    Thanks John for the good news. You and your colleagues continue to realize an excellent carpe diem publication, whose voice remains intact.

  • Bill Gordon

    How drab my world would be without the monthly inspiration that comes my way through the pages of FAST COMPANY...inspiration that changes my thinking from "what might have been" to "what might be possible". How wonderful to read about contemplative folks who succeed on their abilities and/or their perserverence. I also learn from your articles about those crass folks who self-implode from selfishness, self-righteousness and egocentricity. My life has been enriched (as Tennessee Williams wrote) "by the kindness of strangers" (aka John Byrne and his superb support team). After reading my first copy of FAST COMPANY last Spring, I was so inspired by its ability to motivate and inspire that I immediately began sending back to you the fall-out FAST COMPANY subscription cards, making sure that my role-models in business (inspired and inspiring employers, co-workers and friends) received your monthly missives. Now that I realize more fully that your income needs a bit of a boost to support your expenses, I will now be sending Gift Subscriptions to many of the selfish, eccentric idiots-in-business whom I have encountered during my 64 years...in the hopes that, perhaps, they, too, might find redemption-through-association by reading your superlative articles on such a wide variety of timely topics that can apply to both business life and personal life. Knowing the writings of John Byrne and his staff, I can only imagine that they, too, might have voiced, during those dark days of financial uncertainty, the same sentiments stated by a terminally ill man, who, even though he was dying, said: "I have an immense sense of wellness." I wish you wellness...always.

  • Joe

    Until recently I did not know the struggles Fast Company had / has been going through, that they were loosing money and were up for sale. In my little world Fast Company was the best business magazine on the market, everyone knew about it, everyone loved it, and they "Fast Company owners" were rolling in the dough! After all would I (because on time constraints with a growing family), some one who loves business / investment magazines cut down from 5-6 to just one; Fast Company if it were not the best!

    Glad to hear things are looking up

    Joe

  • Honore

    I had been afraid that FC was gone and so relieved the other day when I found the latest issue on the newsstand - so imagine my surprise ~ and relief~ reading this blog to learn that your future had just been secured. Hooray and thanks so much to JM. I was once a subscriber to FC during its early days and have always been fond of this magazine. I let my subscription lapse because my work focus changed tho' I often purchased single issues to stay in touch. I am going to re-subscribe; it is a small statement of my committment to your magazine's purpose and excellent contribution to our thinking and perspective.

  • Johnny Younglood

    John,

    You say, "in an increasingly competitive world where the people with the best ideas and skills win, Fast Company is more relevant than ever."

    Yet, Fast Company was rapidly becoming less relevant--and losing--up until Joe came along.

    If Joe is going to turn the publication around, he'll need to replace the desultory commentary about business that FastCompany confuses with journalism with something approaching quality reporting over the next 12 months--morningstar's approach, in other words.

    JY

  • Tom Geraghty

    Glad to see that the brand(s) will continue - it is maybe even worth considering combining them to make a new Mega-mag called Fast Company, Inc. I bet a study would show a large crossover of subscribers and I'd be happier with all of the great content in 1 package that is a greater competitor to "traditional" business magazines...

    Keep it coming!!

  • Kerry Woo

    Fast Company has always stretched my imagination to consistantly ask "Why Not?" especially when I don't always agree with what may be printed in that's month's issue. But isn't it really about being responsible in the way we who make up companies as part of the rank and file to extend our influence, passion, innovation and excellence to facilitate "Why Not?" Thanks Fast Company for challenging us as readers to think and act in the context of healthy dialogue. I celebrate the new ownership and your leadership because, indeed the best is yet to come.

  • James Clark

    Congratulations John. I can't even tell you how often I refer to something I've read in a FC article in conversations with friends, in new business meetings, giving presentations, etc. Best of luck and keep the FC spirit alive.

  • Chris Busch

    This is great news. Reading FC on the airplane is about the only thing I had to look forward to when traveling.

  • Jeff De Cagna

    John, this is such excellent news! I'm so happy that FC will continue for the foreseeable future. I'm also glad that Joe will leave the magazine in your capable hands. Being an FC reader is such a rich experience and I'm confident that you and your team will continue to deliver on it going forward. Just please know that the readers are behind you!

  • Nerio Vakil

    John, I had written earlier that this would probably happen for the best. I always knew someone like Joe would lap up Fast Company not only for what it is, but also it's potential. I'm sure you'll take our favorite magazine to never before heights. Good Luck and God bless Joe and all of you.

  • Redza

    That's great news. Now let's move on. I know the best part of FC lies in its future, not in the past. Make it happen. Congratulations John and team. And thank you Joe!

    I'd like to share ideas on how to make more money, but you guys probably have tonnes already.

  • Bob Watkins

    Let me add my congratulations to those above.

    As a participant in the Seattle Company of Friends group almost since its inception (I think I missed it by a couple of months), I had been watching the dwindling page count of the magazine with alarm. It was almost like watching a dear friend, stricken with some malady, steadily becoming weaker and more gaunt by the month.

    This news that FastCompany and Inc. are both in such good hands, is indeed welcome.

    Now get out there and change the world - again!

  • Sadagopan

    Thanks John. Its quite reassuring - for a longtime Fastcompany has enjoyed a unique and significant place in our forward looking ecosystem - Fastcompany deserves to grow - here's more best wishes.

  • Robert Ellis

    Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Glory Hallelujah.

    It is a relief to know your future is assured. If FASTCOMPANY passed from the scene, we would be left with nothing but your staid and stuffy competitors. Had FASTCOMPANY not shocked the entire industry into change, we would still be reading about ROI and enjoying black and white descriptions of the rainbow. When everything is said and done, FASTCOMPANY's biggest gold star shall be that it saved the entire venue.

    Although it is not exactly your style, consider a story on the potential danger to the environment and water supply posed by Bucky Balls -- uncovered by Rice University and Georgia Tech (AP story).

  • Dale Wolf

    I am relieved. Since the announcement that Fast Company was for sale, I have been worried that one of my most important resources for inspiration would disappear, or worse yet, that it would change. Now I can sit back in comfort because you seem to have found the perfect owner. I am always amazed in life how things work out for the best. Surely somewhere there is a guiding light that cares.