The June 16, 2014 issue of Fortune, featuring its Fortune 500 list
|First issue||February 1930|
Fortune is an American business magazine published globally by Time Inc. and founded by Henry Luce in 1929. The magazine competes with Forbes and Bloomberg Businessweek in the national business magazine category and distinguishes itself with long, in-depth feature articles. The magazine is best known for the Fortune 500, a ranking of companies by revenue that it has published annually since 1955.
Fortune was founded by Time co-founder Henry Luce in 1929 as "the Ideal Super-Class Magazine," a "distinguished and de luxe" publication "vividly portraying, interpreting and recording the Industrial Civilization." Briton Hadden, Luce's business partner, wasn't enthusiastic about the idea—which Luce originally thought to title Power—but Luce went forward with it after Hadden's sudden death on February 27, 1929.
In late October 1929, the Wall Street Crash of 1929 occurred, marking the onset of the Great Depression. In a memo to the Time Inc. board in November 1929, Luce wrote: "We will not be over-optimistic. We will recognize that this business slump may last as long as an entire year." The publication made its official debut in February 1930. Its editor was Luce; its managing editor was Parker Lloyd-Smith; its art director was Thomas Maitland Cleland.
Single copies of the first issue cost $1 ($14.12 today). An urban legend says that Cleland mocked up the cover of the first issue with the $1 price because no one 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 had already signed up to receive that initial 184-page issue. By 1937, the number of subscribers had grown to 460,000 and the magazine turned half a million dollars in annual profit.
At a time when business publications were little more than numbers and statistics printed in black and white, Fortune was an oversized 11"×14", using creamy heavy paper, and 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 to 1965.
During the Great Depression, Fortune developed a reputation for its social conscience, for Walker Evans and Margaret Bourke-White's color photographs, and for a team of writers including James Agee, Archibald MacLeish, John Kenneth Galbraith, and Alfred Kazin, hired specifically for their writing abilities. The magazine became an important leg of Luce's media empire; after the successful launch of Time in 1923 and Fortune in 1930, Luce went on to launch Life in 1936 and Sports Illustrated in 1954.
From its launch in 1930 to 1978, Fortune was published monthly. In January 1978, it began publishing every two weeks. In October 2009, citing declining ad revenue and circulation, Fortune began publishing every three weeks.
Marshall Loeb was named managing editor in 1986. During his tenure at Fortune, Loeb was credited with expanding the traditional focus on business and the economy with added graphs, charts and tables, as well as the addition of articles on topics such as executive life, and social issues connected to the world of business, such as the effectiveness of public schools and on homelessness.
Fortune regularly publishes ranked lists. In the human resources field, for example, it publishes a list of Best Companies to Work For. Lists include companies ranked in order of gross revenue and business profile:
- Fortune 500
- Fortune 1000
- Fortune Global 500
- Fortune India 500
- 40 under 40
- Fortune Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs
List of managing editors
There have been 17 top editors since Fortune was conceived in 1929. Following the elimination of the Time Inc. editor-in-chief role in October 2013, the top editor's title was changed from "managing editor" to "editor" in 2014.
- Parker Lloyd-Smith (1929—1931)
- Ralph Ingersoll (1932—1935)
- Eric Hodgins (1935—1937)
- Russell Davenport (1937—1940)
- Richardson Wood (acting; 1940—1941)
- Ralph D. "Del" Paine, Jr. (1941—1953)
- Hedley Donovan (1953—1959)
- Duncan Norton-Taylor (1959—1965)
- Louis Banks (1965—1970)
- Robert Lubar (1970—1980)
- William S. Rukeyser (1980—1986)
- Marshall Loeb (1986—1994)
- Walter Kiechel III (1994—1995)
- John Huey (1995—2001)
- Richard "Rik" Kirkland (2001—2005)
- Eric Pooley (2005—2006)
- Andrew "Andy" Serwer (2006—2014)
- Alan Murray (2014—)
- "Exhibit 99.1". Time Inc. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- Carmody, Deirdre (May 2, 1994). "A Shaper of Magazines Retires". New York Times. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
- Fry, Erika (June 2, 2014). "What happened to the first Fortune 500?". Fortune. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
- FORTUNE prospectus. By Henry Luce. Fortune, September 1929, Volume One, Number Zero.
- Henry Luce & His Time by Joseph Epstein, Commentary, Vol. 44, No. 5, November 1967
- Okrent, Daniel (September 19, 2005). "How the world really works". Fortune.
- "Current Magazines." The New York Times. February 2, 1930.
- Massey, Laura (December 11, 2010). "Fortune". Peter Harrington London. Retrieved 10 August 2014.
- RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA (23 October 2009). "Fortune Magazine Will Drop From 25 to 18 Issues a Year". New York Times.
- Pérez-Peña, Richard (October 23, 2009). "Fortune media kit". The New York Times.
- Deirdre, Carmody (May 2, 1994). "The Media Business; A Shaper of Magazines Retires". The New York Times. Retrieved February 10, 2009.
- Primack, Dan. "Time Inc. becomes America's oldest startup". Retrieved 30 July 2014.
- Barnett, Megan; Serwer, Andy. "Inside the all-new Fortune.com". Retrieved 30 July 2014.
- Kaufman, Leslie (October 31, 2013). "Reshuffling at Time Inc. to Set Table for Spinoff". The New York Times. Retrieved August 30, 2014.
- Kile, Daniel. "Alan Murray Named Editor of Fortune". Retrieved 30 August 2014.
- Official website
- List of 100 Best Companies To Work For
- Complete Downloadable List of Fortune 500/1000 Companies – 1955–2008
- Fortune Magazine covers since 2004