Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Si Newhouse & Condé Nast

[Si Newhouse] ran [Condé Nast] as if it were a movie studio of the thirties and forties, the era in which Newhouse, a shy child, fell in love with the glamour of Hollywood. “One editor is like Hal Wallis,” Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair, tells me, “another like Busby Berkeley, and there’s a commissary,” the Frank Gehry–designed cafeteria at the Condé Nast Building at 4 Times Square. For Newhouse, it was a wonderful setup. “He created [in Condé Nast] a reality in which he is no longer the bumbling, asocial kid he grew up as,” says one person close to him. In this analogy, Newhouse is in the role of Louis B. Mayer, the notoriously tyrannical MGM head who loved his stars but made them quake. “Si loves being surrounded by divas and egomaniacs,” says one former editor. When one editor called another a “fucking bitch,” Newhouse didn’t mind. “Yes, but she’s our bitch,” he said. He delights in the Darwinian drama that takes place below him. “He believes the best will rise and will not be shivved in the back,” says the former editor.

– From a lengthy article by Steve Fishman published in New York magazine. The piece, about Si Newhouse and his kingdom at Condé Nast, gives a good glimpse into the company and its culture.

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