Jim Spanfeller
Former President and CEO, Forbes.com
02:37

Jim Spanfeller Lobbies for the New Entrepreneur Class

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The CEO says there will be ample opportunity for entrepreneurs in the new economy.

Jim Spanfeller

James J. Spanfeller serves as President & Chief Executive Officer of Forbes.com, a leading media Internet company, and as Executive Vice President of Electronic Publishing for Forbes, publisher of Forbes, the nation's leading business magazine. As CEO of Forbes.com, he oversees all aspects of the strategic and operational management of the company. He is the first person to hold the position of Executive Vice President of Electronic Publishing at Forbes, a position created in recognition of the driving need to link all elements of the company's business to the Internet. In this capacity, Mr. Spanfeller develops and oversees joint opportunities for print and online across all areas of Forbes.
Prior to joining Forbes, Mr. Spanfeller was President, Consumer Magazine Group of Ziff Davis Media, Inc., the largest technology publishing company in the United States. The titles under his responsibility were PC Magazine, Yahoo! Internet Life, Smart Business, Family PC and Expedia Travels. He also managed Corporate Sales and Custom Publishing and was on the company's Board of Directors. He joined Ziff Davis Media in 1996 to launch Yahoo! Internet Life, as Founding Publisher, and oversaw all aspects of the business, including editorial, circulation, production, marketing and advertising sales. This magazine launch was one the most successful in the last decade, and the publication now has a circulation of 1.1 million. He also had direct supervision of the magazine's Web site, which attracted over 4 million page views a month. Before working at Ziff Davis Media, Mr. Spanfeller was Publisher of Inc. magazine, and he has also been Senior Vice President, Marketing/Associate Publisher of Playboy Enterprises Publishing Group, which owns and operates Playboy Magazine. Prior to this he held senior sales positions at Newsweek.
Mr. Spanfeller has a BA in English Literature from Union College, Schenectady, New York. He sits on the Board of Directors of The New York Chapter of The National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship To At Risk Youth (NFTE); served as Executive Director of The Magazine Publishers Association, 1999-2000; and was named one of Folio magazine's "40 Industry Visionaries" in 1999. Mr. Spanfeller lives in New York City with his wife, Peg, and their three daughters.
Transcript

Question: What role will entrepreneurs play in the new economy?

 

Spanfeller:    Well, because I’ve done it right.  I mean, you know, we shouldn’t be deaf of blind to history and I think a lot of the … gestation of those thoughts are in fact historically related but in any previous downturn, it has in fact then you know, new or smaller or growth company business that have pulled the economy out of the recession.  It doesn’t mean that large companies are important, they clearly are but you know, the engine of job creation around the upturn here will undoubtedly be located much more on this smaller businesses and the new businesses then initially in the larger companies, there’ll be a rebound hopefully, I’m expecting in a the larger companies.  But you know, the notion of creative destruction which is you know, is the [IB]from like the last century, is this true today as it was then and I… you know, like Clay Christensen over at Harvard business schools who augmented that process with the “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” and “The Innovator’s Solution,” solution series of books which are a great reads and speak to all of this which is you know, you’ve got to keep pushing the ball forward and we’ve got to keep making things better and barely a lot more not all but a lot more of the innovation comes out of new world, smaller, more nimble companies.

 

Question: What can large companies learn from small ones?

 

Spanfeller:    Well, I always has a lot of lessons and you know, to the extent that I’m sort of hedgy on my bets here and suggesting that those certainly be a percentage of the recovery that will be large company driven.  It’s around the fact that you can’t get to be a large company these days without being bigger and smart.  And part of that intelligence is understanding how to learn, right.  This idea of a learning organization and today I guess, that again the generation of your question is that a lot of those companies have in fact spend a lot of time figuring out how they can be you know, less big and more nimble and you know, folks like Cisco and others are I think are key examples of that who are… sort of recreate and regenerate themselves time and time again.


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