The recent sale of San Francisco magazine’s parent company for some $250 million has us wondering if the upscale city glossy plans to start offering free Cartier diamonds with every issue.
A few days ago, Clarity Partners, a private L.A. equity firm, bought a controlling stake in Chicago-based Modern Luxury Media, publishers of two dozen regional lifestyle journals nationwide. Modern Luxury’s titles appeal to the topsoil of the upper crust, those elusive readers with six-figure incomes drawn to “articles” about ascots, Prada handbags, and brioche.
After acquiring San Francisco in 2005, Modern Luxury pimped the glossy’s look by enlarging its format and upping the number of photos; city ordinance now requires that it be described as "sumptuous." (Alas, the changes didn’t include paying the mag’s interns.) Stories took a turn for the fluffier, though to its credit, San Francisco still dares to publish pieces about topics other than the city’s best pies.
Shamrock Capital in Burbank paid $50 million for a majority interest in Modern Luxury three years ago; Clarity Partners paid Shamrock about five times that amount. Yet Steven Dinkelspiel, San Francisco’s publisher, doesn’t expect the new owners to meddle. “We are a local magazine with a national parent [that] trusts us,” he says. “We have complete independence.”
Then again, with Clarity holding $1 billion in assets, it could easily fund at least one change to make the mag even sumptuous-er: scratch-n-sniff photos. Sweet Jesus, can’t you smell the pie already? -- Martin Kuz