"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