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The Man Responsible for Taking Playboy Global Now to be Found Making Forbes Mobile

Expe­ri­ence does count in the dig­i­tal world. Mike Perlis, an accom­plished print inno­va­tor, is mak­ing his mark in the dig­i­tal world.

As the CEO of Forbes, Perlis has spear­head­ed the company’s dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion, but he comes from rel­a­tive­ly hum­ble begin­nings, with stints at both Play­boy and GQ before he hit pay dirt by secur­ing a place at top table of the country’s pre­mier publisher.

Perlis – the Forbes Years 

In 2010 Perlis took over the reins at the pre­mier pub­lish­ing house, spear­head­ing the company’s move into dig­i­tal pub­lish­ing and launch­ing its ground­break­ing AdVoice pack­age, which enables indus­try lead­ers to pay for the priv­i­lege of writ­ing columns for Forbes’ online space. Some have seen this as a cute move – allow­ing the com­pa­ny to cut down on staffing costs while pop­u­lat­ing with author­i­ta­tive con­tent; while oth­ers see it as a white ele­phant – a fan­cy name for adver­tis­ing and the death knell to the publisher’s cred­i­bil­i­ty. What­ev­er your opin­ion, Perlis’ strat­e­gy seems to be pay­ing off, as he explains.

“We did 33 mil­lion unique vis­i­tors last month, which makes us unique from a dig­i­tal foot­print stand­point,” he said.  “ start­ed 15 years ago and one of the things that we did that real­ly allowed us as a lega­cy busi­ness to become a dig­i­tal play­er was that at the time we sep­a­rat­ed and the mag­a­zine completely.

“We set up a com­plete­ly inde­pen­dent, high­ly entre­pre­neur­ial, and per­for­mance dri­ven .com team in a sep­a­rate build­ing. This allowed us not to make all the bar­gains and all the deals and all the half way steps you have to take to take a tra­di­tion­al media com­pa­ny into the dig­i­tal age.

“Just as it was right to sep­a­rate the assets it was right to put them back togeth­er a cou­ple of years ago and now they feed off one another.”

BF – Before Forbes 

Perlis has over 25 years expe­ri­ence man­ag­ing a host of well-known con­tent and media brands before he arrived at Forbes fresh from Soft­Bank Cap­i­tal. Before it was sold in 2000, Perlis was pres­i­dent of pub­lish­ers Ziff-Davis (a Soft­Bank sub­sidiary), where he was charged with man­ag­ing the company’s tech­nol­o­gy prop­er­ties glob­al­ly. Ana­lysts believe that Perlis was respon­si­ble for repo­si­tion­ing Ziff-Davis – mov­ing it away from the PC and point­ing it firm­ly at the web. He also nego­ti­at­ed the sale of TVSM to News­Corp in 1998 after spend­ing two years at the com­pa­ny direct­ing all strat­e­gy and operations.

Intro­duc­ing Play­boy to the World 

Between 1989 and 1994 Perlis was the pres­i­dent of Play­boy Pub­lish­ing Group, where he over­saw all pub­lish­ing and prod­uct activ­i­ty. Dur­ing his tenure the Play­boy brand was suc­cess­ful­ly export­ed across the globe, which result­ed in oper­a­tions being set up in 17 coun­tries and he also intro­duced the online com­mu­ni­ty to the delights of Play­boy when he direct­ed the cre­ation of

Pri­or to his for­ay into the world of ‘gentlemen’s enter­tain­ment’, Mr Perlis was pres­i­dent and CEO of IDG Peter­bor­ough, the com­pa­ny respon­si­ble for GQ, and he built the Rodale Active Sports umbrel­la brand, which includ­ed Men’s Health, Women’s Health and lat­ter­ly the pur­chase of Runner’s World.

So What’s Next for Forbes and Perlis? 

With such an illus­tri­ous and colour­ful career, you could be for­giv­en for think­ing that Perlis can’t have many chal­lenges left, but you’d be wrong. He still sees the future in a dig­i­tal frame and square­ly in that frame is mobile.

Perlis con­tin­ued: “The whole indus­try is look­ing at mobile. We have a grow­ing per­cent of our traf­fic com­ing from mobile and we need to fig­ure out like every­one else how to mon­e­tize that expe­ri­ence. For all of us, mobile is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to deal with and a prob­lem to solve.”

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