Fortune magazine is America's second longest-running business magazine after Forbes magazine. Henry Luce founded the magazine in 1930. His publishing business, consisting of Time, Life, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated, grew to become Time Warner, the world's largest media conglomerate, before it was acquired by AOL in 2000. Fortune is especially known for its annual features ranking companies by revenue.
History and organization
The July 24, 2006 issue of Fortune, featuring their Fortune 500 listFortune was founded by Time co-founder Henry Luce in February 1930, four months after the Wall Street Crash of 1929 that marked the outset of the Great Depression. Briton Hadden, Luce's partner, wasn't enthusiastic about the idea, but Luce went forward with it after Hadden's October 15, 1929 death (of streptococcus).
Luce wrote a memo to the Time, Inc. board in November 1929, "We will not be over-optimistic. We will recognize that this business slump may last as long as an entire year."
Single copies of that first issue cost $1 at a time when the Sunday New York Times was only 5c. At a time when business publications were little more than numbers and statistics printed in black and white, Fortune was an oversized 11"x14", using creamy heavy paper, and great art on a cover printed by a special process. Fortune was also noted for its photography, featuring the work of Margaret Bourke White and others. Walker Evans served as its photography editor from 1945-1965.
An urban legend says that art director T M Clelland mocked up the cover of the first issue with the $1 price because nobody had yet decided how much to charge; the magazine was printed before anyone realized it, and when people saw it for sale, they thought that the magazine must really have worthwhile content. In fact, there were 30,000 subscribers who'd already signed up to receive that initial 184-page issue., Fortune claims their circulation has risen from 833,000 to 857,000 in that period.
A theme of Fortune is its regular publishing of researched and ranked lists. In the human resources field, for example, their Best Companies to Work For list is an industry benchmark. Its most famous lists rank companies by gross revenue and profile their businesses:
Fortune Global 500.
In August 2006, CNNMoney.com published a feature from Fortune magazine which recommended books and websites focused on the world's top five companies, as ranked in the "Fortune Global 500". In a novel twist, each company website was featured alongside a website taking a critical view of the company's activities. For example, the recommended websites for Royal Dutch Shell, listed as number 3 in the rankings, was Shell's own portal website shell.com along with royaldutchshellplc.com which focuses on alleged negative aspects of the oil giant. The unstated but logical purpose of the recommendations was to allow the public, investors and shareholders to arrive at a balanced view of each company, taking into account the positive and negative information available from the recommended websites.
Enron was named "most innovative company in America" for the sixth consecutive year by FORTUNE Magazine in 2001.
FORTUNE conducts a survey each year for the top 100 places to work in America, the 2007 winner was Google. The 2006 winner was Genentech located in South San Francisco.
University of Wisconsin-Madison currently ranks #1 in CEO's for Fortune 500 companies worldwide.
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