Today's Obsession: A Look Inside the Snakepit
Here’s a nasty little turd the New York Observer dropped on the dinner table a couple of days ago; a tell-all about former WIRED Creative Director Scott Dadich’s apparent failures. It’s pretty clear in the tone of this telling that Condé’s management just doesn’t get the internet on any level, hence this:
During the McKinsey era, when the white-shoe consultancy was paid seven figures to help turn things around, Condé Nast’s then-CEO and president, Chuck Townsend, was ready to ask for help. He created a ideas box—grandly named “The Power of Suggestion”—and invited any Condé employee with an idea to benefit the company to submit it. The best idea would be selected once each quarter, and the employee would be awarded a $10,000 bonus. But why, some wondered, would anyone with a truly disruptive idea give it away for $10,000 when they could walk to the Flatiron and get half a million in funding?
…and secondly, none of the titles’ staff members wanted to at all because who wants to do two jobs for the price of one?
There’s a particularly harrowing paragraph describing how Condé’s print design team was essentially shoved off the magazine and onto the iPad, which, yes, is a terrible idea. I saw that first issue of WIRED, and I hated it. It felt fussy and un-interactive. But you know what? It was the first one. I’ve got forgiveness for that kind of failure, because it’ll improve later.
What this article doesn’t say is that Adobe and the staff were inventing entirely new workflows and tools for the iPad version of WIRED—Su and I were on the phone yesterday for a feature walkthrough in InDesign with one of the folks at Adobe who actually helped do it. So… a complete reboot to help print designers get to interactive media is a failure? It certainly seems Condé may think so.
I certainly hope Condé’s management was actually cognizant of that reinvention, even though its inception was deeply, deeply flawed. But even if not, the rest of us will benefit from the money they sank into it, and if Condé Nast goes fallow, then so be it. Their loss.