Denver Magazine folds, 5280 acquires its remains: Daniel Brogan on the deal

Categories: Business, Media

denver mag cover fox31 anchors.JPG
Say goodbye to Denver Magazine. The publication that convinced Fox31 anchors to turn into skankers on its cover a couple of years back is no more, with rival 5280 acquiring intellectual property like internet domain names and its Facebook page. Here's 5280 founder, editor and publisher Daniel Brogan on the deal.

Brogan admits that the competition between the rivals has been fierce since Denver Magazine's founding three years back. "They worked really hard, and they were really aggressive," he points out. "They focused on things like forming partnerships with different organizations around town, and it was a great way of getting a lot of attention focused on them. We definitely had to react to that, no question."

dan brogan.jpg
Daniel Brogan.
By agreement, Brogan and Denver Magazine's Michael Ledwitz won't discuss the dollars and cents of the transaction, or even the way it came about. The most Brogan will say is that the pact materialized "pretty quickly," and Ledwitz didn't come to him hat in hand.

Nonetheless, seventeen Denver Magazine employees have lost their jobs as a result of the publication's end, and the city has one less publication -- something Brogan regrets. "I think there should be more voices," he maintains. "But the fact of the matter is, there are still a lot of magazines in town: 303, Denver Living, Mile High Sports and many more. And that speaks to the fact that magazines are still doing really well, even in this economy."

Indeed, Brogan stresses that 5280 could have survived continuing competition from Denver Magazine. "In the three years they were in business, we grew our paid subscription base by 26 percent," he says.

He hopes that number will keep heading up as a result of the intellectual-property acquisitions. "The big thing was the federal trademark for Denver Magazine, as well as DenverMagazine.com and some related addresses, their Facebook page, their Twitter account, and their e-mail subscriber list."

5280 cover.JPG
Regarding the main site, Brogan notes that "soon, when you go to DenverMagazine.com, you'll be redirected to an intermediary page that will explain what happened. There'll be a frequently-asked-questions feature and a way to give feedback -- and when they close that, it'll redirect them to 5280.com." As for Denver Magazine's Facebook and Twitter pages, their friends and followers can't simply be migrated over to their 5280 equivalents -- but Brogan hopes to use them to encourage samplers and find out what it is readers liked about Denver Magazine, with an eye toward making 5280 more appealing to them.

He's also hoping to woo more national advertisers. "One of the things that helped Denver Magazine last so long was the name," he believes. "An agency might tell some junior planner to get a list of city magazines, and they'd look at San Francisco Magazine and Chicago magazine and New York magazine and naturally add Denver Magazine to the list. Now, simply by having that website, if somebody looks, they'll come to us."

All of these prospects persuaded Brogan to open his wallet. In his words, "We wouldn't have made the deal if we didn't think it would help us in the long run."

More from our Media archive: "Another coup for 5280 magazine."

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60 comments
Benjamin F.
Benjamin F.

I don't know what the one poster meant when they said Hickenlooper supported Denver Mag, but Michael Ledwitz, while he was publisher, made a campaign contribution to Hickenlooper around the same time the mag published a profile of him. You can find it on the Colorado Secretary of State Website.

Committee Name: HICKENLOOPER FOR COLORADO Report Schedule: SEPTEMBER 7, 2010 REPORT OF CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES Committee ID: 20105016956 Reporting Period: 07/29/2010 - 09/01/2010 Committee Type: Candidate Committee Filing Due: 09/07/2010

Contributor Type: Receipt Date: Amount: Aggregate Amount This Cycle: Major: Individual 09/01/2010 $250.00 $250.00 No   Contribution Type Receipt Type: Amended: Electioneering Communications: Monetary (Itemized) Check No No Contributor: MICHAEL LEDWITZ Employer: SELF  Occupation: Media/Public Relations  

Shane
Shane

Looks like Ledwitz has already moved on...Or was moonlighting while at the mag. This is the bottom story of a news roundup dated April 22, 2011 - three days after the mag closed:

A Decided Advantage for Developers in Online Condo Marketing

After the recent transition from a real estate brokerage to an online portal, developers have been lining up to market their projects on CondoCompany.com. 10 developers have already added their projects after only a week following the "Developers Sponsorships" launch. "Our Developer Sponsorship is a program where developers and marketers can promote their condominium projects on our site," says Michael Ledwitz, president of CondoCompany.com. "We build developers a custom page on CondoCompany.com that includes the contact information to their sales center, a link to their website, and a contact form which forwards all inquiries directly to them."

http://webcache.googleusercont...

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Very interesting, Shane. Thanks for the post.

DM writer
DM writer

As a former writer for DM I can firmly attest that it quickly became clear to me the Michael Ledwitz was a classic scum bag. In my experience (and similarly told to me by other writers) in order to get paid by Michael you basically had to pry it out of him.  Payments never "just came" like he said they would.  You had to email him, then call him, then email him again, then come to the office, then "he wasn't there" even though he said he had the check written and waiting at the office.  It became comical. Would I eventually get paid, yes, but does Michael run a respectable business, not even close..

Sandy231
Sandy231

That appears to actually be one of Michael's previous business's that article is actually old, you looked at the cached date, not the article date, this appears to be related to his real estate business in Florida

Now Happy Business Owner
Now Happy Business Owner

Hey DM advertisers - I got screwed too, but there is hope! I called Mile High Sports Magazine (303.650.1795) and they agreed to pick up my entire DM contract for the same size and price! It was a huge relief. If you're in a bind, I suggest giving them a call.

Jillian13dr
Jillian13dr

As mentioned before:

I may only be a mere DM subscriber, and am I going to fuss over a subscription fee I am out? Not too much... But I will fuss a bit about the principle of it and the bad business practice by BOTH Denver Magazine/Michael Ledwitz and 5280/Dan Brogan, I bet they both assumed there was not much risk in STEALING money from subscribers because it wouldn't be worth it for any of them to try and recoup their money, but that just shows the type of people they both are:

1. Michael sold "key assets" and made money, he could easily have refunded everyone that subscribed for his magazine, instead he profited on a product he sold and never delivered. I call that STEALING MONEY anyone disagree?

2. Dan should have realized (IF he didn't) that what Michael was doing was at a minimum unethical possibly illegal? and given all DM subscribers a free subscription to 5280. Their excuse is "They didn't receive DM's subscription list". What the hell does that mean? That was the best answer they could come up with? How about something like "Any DM subscribers that paid for a subscription just send in a receipt for you subscription and we will fulfill the term of your subscription with our great magazine." Is that too much to ask? REALLY? Can 5280 not afford a few free subscriptions? We all know they do it already in round about ways.

Shame on both of them, I expect and deserve more from fellow Denverites, especially public figures, we all do! And to think Hickenlooper endorsed DM, bet he wished he didn't do that!

Daniel Brogan
Daniel Brogan

Jillian,

It's not quite that simple.

We wanted to acquire DM's subscriber list. It wasn't for sale. We then thought about doing something like what you suggest -- asking DM subscribers to send in a mailing label or some other receipt. There were several problems with that, however. First, it would have been a huge inconvenience for the subscriber and an administrative hassle for us (contrary to popular perception here, we're not a big company). Second, even when a subscriber could track down an issue with a label (some issues mailed in polybags, which get thrown away), the label doesn't include all of the information required to satisfy our circulation auditors (unlike many other local pubs, we go through a rigorous process with a third-party auditor so that we can guarantee our audience to our advertisers).

All that being said, we haven't given up on finding a solution to this problem. I hope to have some good news on that front in the next few days.

-Daniel Brogan, 5280.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Daniel, thanks for posting this information. Much appreciated.

Jillian13dr
Jillian13dr

Daniel -

It is comforting to at least hear that this issue is something you are aware of and trying to tackle, thank you for the response, it now sounds like you have every ones best interest in mind. I guess it does raise the question though, why didn't DM provide you with their subscription list? I would imagine that would be something you would have wanted? Was there a reason given? Does it suggest DM was lying about their subscription numbers? This could open a whole new door for past advertisers if they were given false information in order to sell ads as this may suggest.

I think we would all be interested in that!

Kandic32463
Kandic32463

Guess this proves Dontbeahater dead wrong, obviously DM/Michael is now refunding people.

Kandic32463
Kandic32463

Correction "not" refunding advertisers, example: "Hey DM advertisers - I got screwed too, but there is hope! I called Mile High Sports Magazine (303.650.1795) and they agreed to pick up my entire DM contract for the same size and price! It was a huge relief. If you're in a bind, I suggest giving them a call. "

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Interesting. Thanks for the post, Now Happy Business Owner.

Fghj Lhm
Fghj Lhm

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Give me a break!
Give me a break!

Well played Michael Ludnuts...really....no one saw through his "slick used car salesman" demeanor? Just kick a few tires and take it for a spin and while you are at it, toss a wrecking ball through everyone in your path. Don't forget to grab your loot as you exit our fine city as you head back to Miami. Good bye and GOOD LUCK!

Guest218
Guest218

Hey Give me break, you may be a little harsh in your judgment of Mr. Ledwitz but I have been reading these posts and wonder if this sort of thing has happened before. Usually there is a pattern of bad business practices. Does anyone know what happened in Miami before he "rolled" into our fair city and produced the "finest magazine in Denver"??? Also, how about investors and possible shareholders who might have been left holding the bag (not to mention those charities and advertisers). Unless I'm wrong, you can't get your money back by suing the company because that no longer exists but you can get a judgment against Mr. Ledwitz personally and file some liens against his personal property but you had better do it before he files bankruptcy or your out of luck. But hey "Give me a break", let's give him the benefit of the doubt, maybe none of this will come to pass and he will make good on everyone he might owe money to -- after all "he is a good guy!"

Dontbeahater
Dontbeahater

Hey Give me a Break - Don't be a hater, as it appears you are. I know Michael and you are just jealous he can roll into a city a produce the finest magazine in Denver. It is ok for you to sit at your desk and write harsh things, but the fact is he is a good guy. I spoke with him yesterday and challenges anyone to find an advertiser that ha been harmed or "ripped off" as the these previous posts suggest. He thinks these posts are put up by ex disgruntled employees who he fired.

Flipside35
Flipside35

From the comments on the old Denver Mag Facebook page:

Blissful Med Spa We were very sad of this news. Denver Magazine was going to help us with gift bags for our inspirational mother contest. We are still moving forward with it anyways. Today is the last day to nominate an inspiring mother. http://blissfulmedspa.com/moth...Friday at 1:34pm · 1 person

Give me a break!
Give me a break!

Newsflash - it is not the finest magazine in the city...it is OUT OF BUSINESS! As for being jealous - not sure where my jealousy would stem from unless i am hoping to be a thief - if that was the case, then yes, I might just be jealous. LOL.

Kandic32463
Kandic32463

RE: Dontbeahater -

So your claim is that Michael refunded all advertisers for money they had paid for ads that are now not going to be run? I appears people on here are claiming otherwise, and why would they did that? If they were disgruntled employees they would probably be making other types of claims. I for one would like to hear Mr Ledwitz make this statement himself that he has refunded all advertisers and subscribers their money, if that were the truth he surely would have made that public from the start. Maybe now he is scampering to fix his reputation but clearly he missed that opportunity.

psemerson
psemerson

It's a neat trick to sell "certain assets" and stop publication, but I don't think hanging Denver Magazine subscribers out on the line is either ethical or legal. Unless the former publisher sends out a letter offering a refund, there doesn't seem to be any way to make a claim for the unused portion of a subscription. While we're not talking massive amounts per subscriber, it IS money collected for services not rendered ... and since the solicitation and delivery occurred via the U.S. Postal Service, there's a question of the net amount of unfulfilled subscriptions coming under the naughty term of f___d. (And there's no "u" in that word, either.)

Confused!
Confused!

I just don't get how this is possible legally, shouldn't DM have filed for bankruptcy and then advertisers and subscribers would be listed as debtors and have a shot at getting money back through the sale of the companies assets. By selling the assets of the company and then shutting the doors the "owners" now profit from that sale when that money should be going towards the debts of the company. This can't be legal? Can it? Anyone with legal expertise have any insight?

Anonymous
Anonymous

Cori Munyon - 3rd marriage (aka Cori McCain - 2nd marriage, Cori Raile - 1st marriage) She was the Financial Comptroller for Denver Magazine from May 2009 - June 2010.

Jan. 13, 2001 -Castle Rock woman Cori Anne McCain was sentenced in federal court for embezzling $270,000 from U.S. Bank, where she worked as a teller and loan officer.

Cori McCain inflated the appraised value of her own home in applying for five home-equity loans that she later received.

According to court documents, she admitted forging the appraiser's signature on her own applications. McCain applied for one home-equity loan for her home in the Baldwin Park district for $41,000 in November 1998; one for $84,000 in March 1999; one for $121,500 in June 1999; one for $269,500 in July 1999; and one for $45,000 at the end of July 1999. She had reviewed and processed loan applications while working at U.S. Bank at 100 Founders Parkway in Castle Rock.

Just not right... Legal?
Just not right... Legal?

Well that is where the whole "scheme" comes into play, 5280 didn't buy Denver Magazine, they just bought the "assets" i.e. domain names, trademarks, ad and subscription lists, etc.. so they bought anything of value and left all the debt with the actual company that ran Denver Magazine. That is how I read the news releases. So all the customers of "old" DM just got left high and dry while both 5280 and Mr. Ledwitz profited from the deal. I doesn't appear 5280 did anything wrong but I don't see how it is legal for Mr. Ledwitz to sell the assets which should have been used to pay the debts of the company. My guess is he is already out of the state with a nice bank account balance.. Can't be legal!

justathought
justathought

5280 may not have done anything "illegal" but they had to know that a lot of people were going to be hurt by this so-called "deal." Hence the statement which was already in place that they were only buying the "assets" and would not be responsible to the people who were going to lose out as a result of this "deal."

Randy234
Randy234

Guest - This is the whole point I think, that was never done to either subscribers or advertisers, I don't think we know if or how many advertisers are out money, I imagine any of them that paid by credit card could just dispute the charge, although what happens when they dispute it and the credit card companies try to refund the money but there is now no money in the companies bank account? And what about if any advertisers paid by check for a year up front or something which is probably common to get lower ad rates? The 9 news piece said 5280 is giving past DM subscribers "a discount" but that is rediculous, at a minimum they should get a free subscription to 5280 for the same term, and I think also should be offered they money back if they want. I am sure some DM subscribers are also 5280 subscribers so how does a discount or free subscription help them? As previous posters already mentioned, it appears Michael made out with money that should have gone to subscribers and advertisers and I have yet to see any word from Michael about whether he has made such and offer but I think it's safe to assume he didn't since 5280 is offering the discount. How is this not considered Michael stealing money?

Guest
Guest

Someone should contact Denver Magazine's 11 subscribers and see if they want their money back....

Tcbroncs
Tcbroncs

Totally agree with you guys. While the amount per suscriber may be small, the sum total is probably several hundred thousand dollars. Unless they file bankruptcy someone is still liable for the services that were paid for and not delivered.

riled
riled

I agree. But since Denver Magazine is now legally owned by Brogan and 5280, isn't it now on him to settle with subscribers?

nordin
nordin

Press release from Denver Magazine five days before it closed:

Denver Magazine Names Tamara Boyd Director of Sales

DENVER, April 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Denver Magazine announced today the promotion of Tamara Boyd to director of sales. Boyd will take over leadership of the sales team beginning Monday, April 25, following the departure of longtime director of sales, Fred Churbuck.

Boyd, a successful account executive with Denver Magazine since 2009, will manage the sales team, working closely with the publisher and production staff to further develop strategic partnerships, help guide the magazine's continued growth, and increase revenue. She previously worked as a sales executive with Gannett Pacific Publications and served as sales director for Denver Woman Magazine before joining Denver Magazine.

"Fred helped us build the brand to what it is today, and we are sorry to see him leave," says Michael Ledwitz, publisher and CEO. "He was offered an amazing opportunity; I wish him well, and I have the greatest confidence in Tamara. I know the magazine will continue on its positive trajectory with her taking an increased role on the team."

"I'm looking forward to my new role at Denver Magazine and continuing to work with our dynamic team. Denver Magazine has endless opportunities in this market, and I'm excited to be part of the growth," says Boyd.

About Denver Magazine

Denver Magazine is the premier source for everything about life in the Mile High City and beyond. This indispensable monthly lifestyle magazine is at once a guide from the city's best experts on dining, the arts, fashion, the outdoors, and other topics that help readers appreciate life on the Front Range, as well as an intelligent, provocative look at the issues, trends, and culture in the heart of this great region. For more information or to subscribe, visit www.denvermagazine.com.

SOURCE Denver Magazinehttp://www.prnewswire.com/news...

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Extremely interesting, Nordin. Thanks for sharing this information, which we're going to highlights as an upcoming Comment of the Day. Much appreciated.

TL
TL

Here's what would be extremely interesting, report on what happened to Susan Greene at Huffington Post. She wrote one column three months ago slamming her former employer, The Denver Post, which Westword was thrilled to make a big deal out of, then apparently she got fired and her column was taken down immediately. I want to read the big scoops against sacred cows that Susay promised to publicize in her new location. I guess scoops are harder to come by that Susan thought. I have sent unanswered emails to the HP. I have seen previous questions in this forum about what happened, which Michael Roberts dismisses and won't answer. Either, My hunch is that Susan will go the same route as Amy Herdy and wind up writing a self-published book for attention and Westword will publicize it, unquestioned.

Guest
Guest

To amend my original comment, ripped off its ideas, its writers, its employees (Ms. Boyd must be feeling good right about now), its subscribers and its advertisers. Other than that, the rag seems to have a pretty good reputation.

Local PR Firm
Local PR Firm

It was really only a matter of time, if you research the history of Denver Magazine you will find it was always supported by a false front of "luxury", sold by slick sleazy sales people, when in fact they were under funded and run by someone with virtually no publishing experience, basically, a recipe for disaster, which is now clearly evident. In the end it goes to show you how far a smooth talker with "mildly" good looks can carry a business with no spine. The real losers here are the local Denver companies that put money in advertising in DM and in most cases probably saw no results. 5280 is the only real deal in town.

Tcbroncs
Tcbroncs

Mr Ledwitz owes me and probably several thousand others a chunk of that money he made on this deal. You can't just take subscription dollars from people and then sell out and walk away without paying people back. I want my money.

Pissed OFF!
Pissed OFF!

YES! Whatever Mr Ledwitz got in this deal he owes to his advertisers he ripped off, we should get together and sue him personally because he essentially stole for us, especially me who just recently purchased and ad. Is my ad going to run in 5280 now? Doubtful! What a F*in dbag.

jjoi
jjoi

whoever responded has a very legitimate question, since when you buy an ad you are not charged until the month it goes to print. Maybe there was a contract signed for a set price, and number of ads, but not a charge prior to print. I ran ads with them and 5280 and that is always the case. So yeah this person is just angry at life, Doubtful you are a business or paid for an ad months out. And of course 5280 will run your ad but you will pay for it.

Jillian13dr
Jillian13dr

I may only be a mere DM subscriber, and am I going to fuss over a subscription fee I am out? Not too much... But I will fuss a bit about the principle of it and the bad business practice by BOTH Denver Magazine/Michael Ledwitz and 5280/Dan Brogan, I bet they both assumed there was not much risk in STEALING money from subscribers because it wouldn't be worth it for any of them to try and recoup their money, but that just shows the type of people they both are:

1. Michael sold "key assets" and made money, he could easily have refunded everyone that subscribed for his magazine, instead he profited on a product he sold and never delivered. I call that STEALING MONEY anyone disagree?

2. Dan should have realized (IF he didn't) that what Michael was doing was at a minimum unethical possibly illegal? and given all DM subscribers a free subscription to 5280. Their excuse is "They didn't receive DM's subscription list". What the hell does that mean? That was the best answer they could come up with? How about something like "Any DM subscribers that paid for a subscription just send in a receipt for you subscription and we will fulfill the term of your subscription with our great magazine." Is that too much to ask? REALLY? Can 5280 not afford a few free subscriptions? We all know they do it already in round about ways.

Shame on both of them, I expect and deserve more from fellow Denverites, especially public figures, we all do! And to think Hickenlooper endorsed DM, bet he wished he didn't do that!

Kler43
Kler43

Ok, so maybe "Pissed OFF!" is just a disgruntled employee, very possible given the name they used lol. BUT do we not have a reliable and accurate example from "Now Happy Business Owner" who posted below with contact info? Sounds like Mile High ran a free ad for them, which was a great gesture on their part, but it seems to indicate that if there were any prepaid ads in DM Michael did not attempt to compensate those advertisers and did keep all the money to himself, leaving them to try and recoup their losses from other magazines like 5280 which doesn't seem interested in giving free ads amazingly, or Mile High which seems to be taking the high road here.

GUEST
GUEST

I'm curious to know what business you own--or if you are just a bullshiter.

Pissed OFF!
Pissed OFF!

No need to identify myself, comments below confirm I am not the only one! I just don't see the need for my business to be named publicly, sorry MICHAEL

guest
guest

Gee this must be either Mr. Ledwitz or one of his friends responding.

Tsage
Tsage

I never actually understood what Denver Magazine was all about. Were they a luxury lifestyle magazine? A city magazine? A society and party scene magazine?? So I don't think this is much of a loss for the city. 5280 does a nice job of being a news-oriented city magazine for the city of Denver, but Brogan is correct - there are a lot of other great magazines for the area (thank god for that) - other magazines like Colorado Homes & Lifestyles and Denver Life Magazine.

BSquared
BSquared

I guess its safe to say that 5280 wont be picking up my subscription to Denver magazine. I got all of one issue...what a crock

JohnA34rd
JohnA34rd

Looks like you aren't the only one out money, I just searched Google for "Michael Ledwitz Denver Magazine" and found this site: http://www.ripoffreport.com/media/michael-ledwitz-denv/michael-ledwitz-denver-magazin-c6397.htm. Clearly there are many victims in this whole situation, the other post from Michael Roberts outlines a whole new group of people potentially out cash unless Michael refunds them: http://blogs.westword.com/late... I wonder who else got hit by this "sale" if that is even what it should be called. Also would be nice to hear from Mr. Ledwitz about who he is going to refund money to from the sale of the "key assets" that it sounds like he was compensated for. Subscribers? Advertisers? Non-Profits? Probably others I assume.

riled
riled

If Brogan is smart, and not just vindictive, I'll bet they do pick up your subscription. More subscribers means they can ask for more in advertising, and it would be a total waste if he didn't try to win over the denver magazine faithful.

IamSpartacus
IamSpartacus

but what would it do to add a subscriber from another magazine? If you are not a fan of 5280 would you really want to your subscription automatically transferred? With Brogan being as smart as he is, I bet he doesn't add the subscribers, let them come to him. If not, well then at least he's not wasting your time.

riled
riled

are you kidding? it's business! if he was comfortable with denver mag's market share, he wouldn't have made this move, and now he has an opportunity to claim it. if he does nothing to woo that segment of the market, then he's missing an opportunity. just the fact that he referred to growing his subscription base 26% in the last 3 years says he cares about such things. he should be looking over denver mag's staff too. it definitely had a nicer look and a hungrier approach.

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