Media mogul and print entrepreneur Jay Penske surprised the fashion industry when he bought Fairchild Fashion Media, whose portfolio included the traditional trade publication Women’s Wear Daily, from Condé Nast in 2014.
Penske made it clear he wanted to reboot FFM to become a profitable business once again, after it lost a reported $50 million in five years. His tenure in charge is thought to herald major shifts for the longstanding “industry bible,” Women’s Wear Daily, with Penske placing a much greater emphasis on digital platforms.
The son of automobile magnate Roger Penske, Penske graduated from The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, specialising in Finance, Management and Information Systems. He founded the Penske Media Company in 2003, which is today one of the world’s leading digital media and publishing corporations, overseeing more than 20 titles and reaching an estimated 140 million readers monthly.
When it was announced in September 2014 that Penske’s media company would be acquiring, amongst a number of other fashion titles, Women’s Wear Daily, many speculated that Penske wanted to repeat the success he had with Variety, a Hollywood trade publication PMC bought in 2012, which Penske brought back from declining sales and falling financials.
Once an indisputable leader in fashion media, in recent years the 105-year-old Women’s Wear Daily has struggled to hold onto its dominance in the wake of more digitally savvy rivals. Penske’s first move at the helm, after bluntly informing staffers of their paper’s bleeding financials, was to cut daily print editions, rebranding the magazine as a more glossy weekly and shifting content online. He also announced new bureaus in China and Brazil, part of a campaign to make Women’s Wear Daily more relevant in today’s global, modern fashion industry.
In January 2019, PMC took over the remaining 49 percent of Rolling Stone after first acquiring the majority share in 2017. The company also owns Deadline, Hollywood Life and Robb Report, among other titles.
Penske was formerly on the board of the Wharton Entrepreneurial School and currently sits on the board of PMC, India.com, Penske Business Media (PBM), and Dragon Racing, LLC.