Pocket change

Pocket should’ve changed its name to Sherwin-Williams,
because they pretty much cover the Earth.

Another day, another acquisition. Pocket Outdoor Media has snatched up Outside, Peloton, and athleteReg, and will be rebranding itself as Outside.

Here’s the story from Axios. Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, a POM product, has its own story here.

Robin Thurston, chairman of the new Outside, is said to dream of building “the Amazon Prime of the active lifestyle: a connected, holistic ecosystem of resources — including content, experiences, utilities, community, commerce, education, and services — that can be customized for each active lifestyle enthusiast.”

He’s certainly proven himself capable of financing his vision. Is bigger better? Is there strength in numbers? Depends on who’s crunching them, I guess.

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21 Responses to “Pocket change”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    I’m never happy about media consolidation. I’ll ride past Outside’s offices here in Fanta Se later today and see if the place is being sacked by the Visigoths.

  2. John A Levy Says:

    Christ on a crutch to use an old expression. These consolidations and acquisitions get pretty good platforms and dick them like a three dollar street walker. I.e. Velonews, Bicycling, et al. The crap that replaces them or substitutes content is not as good. Crap, thank the heathen deities above that I am old enough that I will not live long enough to see all the good stuff go away.

  3. Shawn Says:

    Wasn’t President Ford’s son one of the founders of Outside mag? I remember where and approximately when I looked at my first Outside mag. It was in the Rexall drugstore in Valdez, Alaska in 1976. It was really something. Over the years I faded away from the magazine. I think I was tired of the drama that the magazine was introducing to it’s contents. There was something and whatever it was I gave up my subscription. Every once in a while I might buy an issue at an airport newstand – Taking a flight somewhere is a great time to read an article about adventure, danger and the perils of life (aka: flaming disintegrating jet engines).

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yup. Also Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone fame and William Randolph Hearst III.

    • SAO' Says:

      ’70s and ’80s, Outside was a Murderer’s Row for outdoorsy literature. Good gawd, the names. Of course, Krakauer, who wrote the #1 and #2 most popular articles ever in that mag, which turned into bestsellers Into the Wild and Into Thin Air. The problem listing the amazing writers is knowing when to stop, because you’ll inevitably leave out someone. E. Annie Proulx, Susan Orlean, Jim Harrison, Randy Wayne White, Tim Cahill, Edward Abbey, David Quammen, Homer’s own Daniel Coyle, Sebastian Junger, E. Jean Carroll, Jane Smiley. Donald Katz …

      I’d put that list up against a ten year span of The New Yorker, Harpers, Esquire, Vanity Fair, anybody.

      But then somewhere along the way, it turned into GC with an ice ax.

      Maybe we can’t really blame them. It’s not like print media in general is doing great. But it sure sounds like a case of The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall-itis.

      I had a little online chat with Quammen about this about a year ago. The great run they had just wasn’t sustainable when your target audience is mostly dirtbags and transients. Hard to encourage someone to subscribe when their mailing address is “that ’73 VW Bus parked in Yosemite Camp 4.”

      But giving them the benefit of the doubt for just trying to survive in a tough market, it still looks like questionable business moves to this outsider. (See what I did there?) They tried to pull a Livestrong a while back, where Outside Magazine and Outside Online are two different things. And it sure looks like a good hunk of Outside Online is corporate sponsored ads disguised as 700 word “dude on the scene” pieces. If you see an “article” that is trying to convince you that Brand X is the best at something, search that author and you’ll find he wrote a dozen similar articles over the past two years.

      It’s a shame, because the good years were very, very good. Hard to find another adrenaline mag who can use the nautilus to explain Faulker.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yeah, it’s hard to think of a magazine that hasn’t taken a Florsheim in the editorial eggs. Tough bidness, maybe tougher even than the newspaper bidness.

      Hal says it’s because nobody can read anymore, and that’s certainly part of it. An attention span measurable only in nanoseconds bodes ill for the long-form thumbsucker. Remember Fayhee’s Mountain Gazette? That was fun. I always looked forward to seeing a copy of that during a road trip somewhere. And there are still people having a go at this sort of thing, but using other support systems.

      Ever check out Adventure Journal? There’s some gold to be panned there, including a story about this very topic, the snatching up of Outside magazine.

  4. carl duellman Says:

    i got tired of all the buyer’s guides. i quit bicycling and outside magazines a while ago. it started to become like the sears christmas catalog. buy! buy! buy!

  5. khal spencer Says:

    The last issue of Buycycling was about the worst I have ever seen. Nothing but advertisements for the latest shiny objects. I don’t recall seeing any meaningful articles.

    I still think Adventure Cycling is a really good magazine. Hope it is never acquired by the vulture capitalists. Probably safe, as long as Adventure remains a little shop up in Missoula. Real articles. Real world people. Nice technical reviews. Kinda reminds me of Bicycling in the eighties when folks like Ed Pavelka and Frank Berto wrote stuff. Actual bicyclists who could read and write.

  6. Pat O’Brien Says:

    If the Outside Magazine offices in Santa Fe close, then you know shit is going down hill. Patrick, don’t you know some of the guys at Pocket? Thurston is certainly blowing some serious venture capitalistic corporate speak there. Comparing your vision the Amazon Prime might be good for bullshitting investors, but it turns me off.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I don’t know whether Outside owns its Fanta Se HQ. That’s a nice piece of property, on the other side of the railroad tracks from where Herself and I lived on Romero Street, across from The Ark bookstore.

      If they do, I could see the new ownership selling it … most of these magazines don’t have any real physical property, just hired talent, IP, and lists of subscribers, and selling the real estate is one way to make some easy money. Who goes to the office anymore?

      And yep, I know people at POM (now Outside). Bicycle Retailer is one of their properties, and I still cartoon for them. Still know a few of the VeloNews types, too, and some of the former Bike staffers now running Beta. This is a pretty small track we cycling scribes ride on.

    • Pat O’Brien Says:

      In that case, I wish them well. I hope they can make it work. But, putting the vision in plain English might help them get where they want to go.

    • SAO' Says:

      Plus, you gotta imagine Bezos reading that and thinking, Hmmmm, you know who’s a good candidate for the Amazon Prime of outdoorsiness? Ever hear of … Amazon Prime?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I was chatting with a colleague about all of this and we agreed that if the outfit’s Active Pass pay-to-play program succeeds it might be a good thing. Please the readers instead of the advertisers. But, y’know, Information Wants to be Free® and all that socialistical bushwa. It’s tough to persuade people to pay for online journalism they’ve grown accustomed to getting for free.

      There is a degree of irony here. Cost-cutting publishers thought they could do journalism on the cheap, getting “writers” to work for the byline, a T-shirt, or a race-entry fee and maybe some expenses, and likewise doing without actual photographers. (“Just snap a cellphone pic.”) If they want the readers to sing for their supper, why, they gotta get the band back together. A laptop doesn’t make you a writer, and a point-and-shoot doesn’t make you a photographer.

      • SAO' Says:

        I’m a firm believer that 90% of the bizniss geniuses were more lucky than smart. And modern VC culture has been to reward folks who were playing with house money the entire time. The capitalist cognoscenti claim they are rewarding people for taking risks, but what’s the risk is taking money from banks, paying yourself in cash, and using stock as collateral? Bezos literally had nothing to lose in stacking benefit upon benefit under the Prime banner. And now he’s created a monster that will stomp on anyone with a pitchfork, or even just a camping spork.

        There’s still space out there for competition, and there’s a lot to like about the Active Pass in concept. But personally, I’m probably waiting on 2.0 or 3.0 before handing out a credit card number.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        The Active Pass concept kind of reminds me of old-school cable TV. You pay $X (or more like $XXX) and get a bazillion channels, two of which you are interested in, and a couple more you’re curious about.

        Back in the Day®, if you saw a mag on the rack (“Huh, Cyclocross Weekly. …) you might risk the $4.99 to see if there was anything in there worth the price of a subscription. Or, you might just stand there at the rack and speed-read the thing for freesies. I can read really really fast, which comes in handy on copy desks and in bookstores.

        I don’t know how Outside Pocket is going to structure the Active Pass thing, and whether the hoped-for rising tide will lift all of the company’s leaky boats. It’s gonna be interesting to watch, from a safe distance.

        • SAO' Says:

          I’ve seen a couple of offers that goes something like,
          $10 for 1 year digital
          or
          $5 for 1 year print + digital

          Basically paying you to take their dead trees off their hands.

          So many damn titles … Half expected to see an option where you get 12 months of a printed magazine, with a different magazine each month.

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