"We have to run profitable businesses," Condé Nast publisher Chuck Townsend said in a meeting this week. It should have been an innocuous comment, but this is Condé Nast we're talking about — a luxury-magazine company where there have always been a couple of "profitable" titles and then many others that were, you know, "emerging," or "developmental," or "just to be fancy." And with McKinsey & Co. in the building helping the venerable publishing giant streamline and cut costs, well, this sent everyone into a tailspin — even though we've heard from a source close to the company that actual title-shutting is most likely not on the table. "He's never commented about profitability in a public setting!" one attendee of the meeting shrieked to Observer reporter John Koblin. "This is historic!" moaned another company vet. "We've never once had to think like this." Another howled: "There are no sacred cows!" It's almost enough to make you, well, not feel bad for these people.
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