Playboy may soon close down magazine and people are not happy with the reason behind the move

Playboy may soon close down magazine and people are not happy with the reason behind the move

The magazine may go out of publishing to focus on casinos and nightclubs.

The future of Playboy as a print product is now uncertain following the death of founder Hugh Hefner. 

Hugh Hefner with Playboy bunnies. (Getty Images)

If reports are to be believed, Playboy may close down its print magazine in favor of forming profitable partnerships with nightclubs and casinos just months after founder Hugh Hefner's death.

Playboy's nightclub in Mayfair, London. (Source: Pinterest)

"We want to focus on what we call the World of Playboy," Ben Kohn, a managing partner at private-equity firm Rizvi Traverse, Playboy's controlling shareholder, told the Wall Street Journal

They want to focus now on the 'World of Playboy'. (Source: Twitter)

Kohn went on to say that Playboy is "so much larger than a small, legacy print publication".

Marilyn Monroe graced the covers of the first Playboy magazine in 1953. (Source: Pinterest)

Hefner launched Playboy magazine in 1953 and built one of the world's most recognizable brands. 

Just days after Hefner died in September, talks of the magazine closing started circulating in the media circle.

hugh hefner
American publisher Hugh Hefner arrives at London Airport from Chicago with an entourage of Playboy Bunnies, 26th June 1966. He is in the capital for the opening of the London Playboy Club on Park Lane. (Photo by Ted West/Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Although Hefner was not involved in the day-to-day business of the magazine, he had formed an agreement with Rizvi Traverse, the company that in 2011 bought a controlling stake in Playboy Enterprises for $207 million. The agreement stated that Rizvi would continue to publish the print magazine as long as Hugh Hefner was alive.

(L-R) Cooper Hefner, Hugh Hefner, and Crystal Hefner attend Playboy Mansion's Annual Halloween Bash at The Playboy Mansion on October 25, 2014, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Playboy)

Though some would like to see Playboy officially handed off to Hefner’s 26-year-old son Cooper who currently serves as Chief Creative Officer, Rizvi partner Ben Kohn is said to see more value in the licensing side of the Playboy brand is said to have no interest in being in the media business. The staff has gone through more than one upheaval in recent months, and Cooper was never viewed as a popular heir to the throne, according to insiders.

playboy ceo
Playboy Playmate Miss September 2011 Tiffany Toth, Playboy CEO Scott Flanders, and Playboy Playmate Miss August 2004 Pilar Lastra attend The Playboy Party at The Bud Light Hotel Lounge, on Friday, January 31, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images for Playboy)

Under former CEO Scott Flanders, Playboy attempted to shift to a more broader lifestyle brand for men eliminating nudes in a bid to attract more high-end advertisers. But the change only boosted newsstand and nothing else as advertisers bailed. Cooper Hefner was against the decision from day one, and once Flanders was out and Cooper came in as CCO, he quickly shifted the magazine back to its original business of nude women.

Playboy Magazines now vs. then (Source: Pinterest)

"At some point in 2018, I think we'll see the print magazine cease to exist," said James Kaminsky, an editorial director at Playboy a decade ago.

Playboy may cease to exist. (Source: Pinterest)

And the financial challenges that all magazines face are acuter at Playboy, which has always struggled for ads.

Said Kaminsky, “I think the idea that the magazine will spring back to life is unrealistic.”

Hugh Hefner poses with Kendra Wilkinson (L) Bridget Marquardt and Holly Madison (R) before a screening of Bonnie and Clyde at the Playboy Mansion June 18, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)

Of course, Rizvi, whose portfolio of investments includes stakes in Twitter, Square, Snapchat, and Flipboard, is not in the business of losing money on its investments.

Playboy, if not shuttered, could be "outsourced" or sold, the source told New York Post.

Playboy could be outsourced, if not shut down. (Source: Pinterest)

Ben Kohn, the managing partner at Rizvi, is much more interested in the licensing side, said one source close to the present company. An expression of Kohn’s, a source revealed, is: "Being in the media business is like trying to catch a falling knife."

playboy mansion
 A general atmosphere shot at the 10th Annual Safari Brunch on October 16, 2004 at the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Most people involved with Playboy thought that the magazine would be shut down the second Hefner died. And now, it seems that Rizvi Traverse is doing just that. 

"We plan to spend 2018 transitioning it from a media business to a brand-management company," Kohn told the Journal

Artist K Camp (C) attends the Playboy party with TAO at Spire Nightclub on February 4, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Playboy)

"I'm not sure that print is necessarily the best way to communicate to our consumer going forward," Kohn added.

Cooper Hefner (L) and Hugh Hefner attend Playboy's 2013 Playmate Of The Year luncheon honoring Raquel Pomplun at The Playboy Mansion on May 9, 2013, in Holmby Hills, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Playboy)

"Rizvi Traverse has one year to buy Hefner's 35 per cent stake in the company. The shareholder is looking to gain the 35 per cent stake that Hefner left in trust to his heirs," a source told the Journal

Beginning in 2011, Rizvi Traverse has focused on licensing deals, placing its name on nightclubs in India and casinos in London. 

A bunny girl croupier at the Playboy club supervises a roulette wheel. (Photo by David Cairns/Express/Getty Images)

Kohn said more focus will now be on equity partnerships, including moving parties from the Playboy mansion to Las Vegas nightclubs, where they generate income instead of being magazine marketing expenses, according to the Journal's report. 

According to Kohn, revenue is expected to grow by 20 per cent in 2018, despite the possible magazine closure.

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