World Publications, LLC History
Winter Park, Florida 32789
Telephone: (407) 628-4802
Fax: (407) 628-7061
Sales: $60 million (2003 est.)
NAIC: 511120 Periodical Publishers; 711320 Promoters of Performing Arts, Sports, and Similar Events Without Facilities
Our Mission: World Publications aspires to be, and be recognized as, the leading force in selected lifestyle and recreational markets by: Providing participants with information, entertainment, knowledge and inspiration through appropriate interactive media. Building relationships with marketing partners by offering them opportunities, our expertise and access to participants and each other. Contributing to the betterment of the natural environment and the activities in which we function. Nurturing, supporting and inspiring our fellow team members and by creating tangible gain for all.
- Terry Snow creates WaterSkiing magazine.
- WindRider is introduced; six issues of the renamed World WaterSkiing are printed.
- Sport Fishing is launched.
- A sports marketing division is formed to run the Pro Water Ski Tour and to produce TV shows.
- Marlin magazine is acquired.
- Water Boarding and Sport Diver are launched.
- The World Entertainment unit is created to manage professional waterskiers.
- Boating Life debuts; Caribbean Travel & Life is acquired.
- Web sites are launched; Fly Fishing in Salt Waters is bought; Kite Boarding bows.
- Saveur, Garden Design, and Friends magazines are purchased.
- Boston Ventures Management, Inc. buys a 49 percent stake in the firm; Cruising World and Sailing World magazines are acquired.
- Spa, Islands, and Resorts & Great Hotels are bought; Power Cruising is launched.
World Publications, LLC is a leading publisher of water sports and leisure-oriented magazines, and also operates web sites, promotes sporting events, and produces television programs. The company's 18 magazine titles include WaterSki, Boating Life, Sport Diver, Spa, Garden Design, and Saveur, and the firm also runs the Pro Water Skiing Tour and several similar events, and produces their telecasts as well as other video programming related to its publications. Founder/CEO Terry Snow owns controlling interest in the company.
World Publications' origins date to 1978, when a 24-year-old Miami, Florida waterskiing champion named Terry Snow decided to put together a magazine on the sport, which he called WaterSkiing. Snow, who had graduated from the University of Florida with a finance degree in 1976, sold the first copies to fellow enthusiasts out of his Dodge van, and the response was strong enough that he made plans to produce more issues. In 1979 he changed the magazine's name to World WaterSkiing, and expanded it to a bimonthly in 1980. That same year Snow started publishing a second title, WindRider, which covered the sport of windsurfing.
Over the next several years World WaterSkiing grew into one of the top two titles in its subject area, and in 1984 Snow bought its main competitor, Spray, and merged them to form WaterSki. By this time his company had taken the name World Publications, Inc. In 1986 he started another new magazine, Sport Fishing, and late the next year bought Women's Sport and Fitness, which boasted circulation of 350,000. It was the company's first mass-market title, competing on newsstands with the likes of Self and Shape.
In 1988 World Publications took over the Professional Water Ski Tour and formed a sports marketing division to run it. The new unit also began producing a telecast of the tour for cable outlet ESPN, and later began to create other television programming based on the company's magazine properties. The year 1988 also saw both WindRider and Sport Fishing boost their publishing frequency to eight issues per year. The growing company was now running out of room, and it moved to larger quarters in its home base of Winter Park, Florida.
World Publications' primary audience consisted of individuals on the upper end of the income scale, and the topics its publications covered were typically somewhat expensive to pursue and often required considerable leisure time. This demographic group was a desirable one for advertisers, especially those that produced goods used in the different sports involved, and the firm could often sell ads for several of its publications to the same companies. The affluent clientele also rendered the company's offerings relatively recession-proof, and the magazines, with circulation of roughly 50,000 to 100,000 copies per issue, provided a steady profit from their respective niche markets.
Despite, or perhaps because of, its growing expertise with special-interest sports magazines, the company was having little success with its lone mass-market title, and in 1989 Women's Sports and Fitness was leased to Rocky Mountain Sports & Fitness, which would later buy it outright. The next year saw World Publications buy WindRider's sole competitor, Windsurf, after which the two were merged into the renamed WindSurfing.
Continuing Growth in the Early 1990s
In 1992 the company purchased an upscale fishing magazine called Marlin, which was distributed internationally. The following year the popularity of new water sports ski-boarding and knee-boarding inspired the creation of Wake Boarding magazine, which would start with circulation of 25,000 copies. The quarterly publication had a cover price of $2.95. During 1993 the firm also introduced diving-themed Sport Diver.
In 1995 World Publications formed a new division named World Entertainment to provide professional waterskiers for theme parks and other live event situations. It won contracts from SeaWorld parks in Texas, California, Ohio, and Florida over the next several years, as well as Jazzland in New Orleans. Other clients included corporations and the G-7 international economic summit. The unit later also organized a multimedia event called Viva for SeaWorld of Texas that involved synchronized swimmers and divers performing alongside whales and dolphins.
In 1996 the company brought out a 138-page watercraft buyers' guide called SportBoats. WaterSki, which now had circulation of 125,000, also had begun publishing a trade magazine called WaterSki Business by this time. Total circulation for all of the firm's publications now topped 500,000.
In late 1996 the company acquired Caribbean Life & Travel, publishers of a bimonthly, ten-year-old magazine of the same name; Caribbean Life Made Easy, an annual; and an in-flight magazine called American Eagle Latitudes. The publications, which employed 20, were based in Silver Spring, Maryland. World Publications would integrate some content from the new titles into its existing ones, as well as bundling them into the package deals it offered advertisers. The sale boosted the company's total circulation to 800,000.
In February 1997 another new magazine, Boating Life, was introduced. The bimonthly publication targeted owners of 16- to 25-foot boats as well as novices to the field. A total of 155,000 copies would be printed, with 80,000 sold on newsstands and the rest given to attendees of boat shows. Single copies retailed for $3.50.
In 1998 and 1999 the company acquired Dive Travel and Aqua magazines, which were merged into Sport Diver. Aqua was the official magazine of the PADI Diving Society, and Sport Diver took on this role. The year 1999 also saw the purchase of Fly Fishing in Salt Waters and the launch of a new "extreme sports" title, Kite Boarding. By now World Publications was operating web sites for its publications, with a total of eight different ones online by mid-1999. They offered informational databases, archived articles, Web-exclusive content, and links to advertisers.
Purchase of Garden Design and Saveur in 2000
In January 2000 World Publications acquired three magazines from the struggling New York-based Meigher Communications, which had been founded by an ex-Time, Inc. executive. The reported $7 million "fire sale" deal brought the company upscale landscaping magazine Garden Design, gourmet food and travel monthly Saveur, and a smaller title called Friends. The purchase of Saveur, which had circulation of 375,000, and Garden Design, with 430,000, had reportedly been the inspiration of Terry Snow's wife Donna, a fan of the magazines.
Following the purchase, additional advertising and marketing employees were hired to boost the new magazines' revenues, and web sites were launched for each. Their editorial functions would continue to be run out of New York, though some business operations were relocated to Florida. The company now had a total of 200 employees.
The former Meigher publications had been struggling for some time, and over the first 18 months of Snow's ownership a number of staffers and some advertisers jumped ship. In the summer of 2001 World Publications moved the offices of Garden Design to Florida, which caused its employees to resign en masse, forcing the company to build a new staff from scratch. The firm soon hired publishing industry veteran Richard Amann to manage the Meigher titles, and he quickly took steps to improve staff morale and boost advertising sales.
Seeking an infusion of capital, in January 2002 Snow sold a 49 percent stake in the firm to Boston Ventures Management, Inc., a private equity firm with media and entertainment industry holdings. That June, however, Amann quit over strategic differences with Snow. Although Saveur's circulation had remained steady at 375,000, Garden Design's had fallen from 425,000 to 300,000 since the sale.
Adding Sailing World and Cruising World in 2002
Shortly after Amann's departure, World Publications bought Sailing World and Cruising World from Miller Publishing Group for an estimated $10 million. The two new magazines were based in Newport, Rhode Island, where their editorial operations would remain. The monthly Cruising World focused on sailing waterways, and had circulation of 155,000, while Sailing World, which covered the field of competitive sailing, published ten issues per year and had circulation of 55,000. Annual revenue from the two titles was approximately $10 million. The deal also included several sporting events that the magazines sponsored, the largest of which was the National Offshore One Design Regattas, the largest sailing-regatta series in the United States.
In November 2003 World Publications assisted with the launch of a new music magazine, Tracks, which was produced by Sub Rosa Communications, and run by former Spin, Vibe, and Rolling Stone staffers Alan Light and John Rollins. World Publications took a small equity stake in exchange for the use of some of its New York office space and the support of its business and circulation departments. The magazine was dedicated to covering "music built to last" for the baby boomer generation, with artists including Sting and R.E.M. spotlighted in the debut issue. A total of 100,000 copies would be circulated. Although it had little in common thematically with Snow's other publications, the target audience was similarly well-to-do.
February 2004 saw the company introduce a new aquatic title, Power Cruising, which was aimed at the owners of yachts and other large boats. A total of 35,000 copies would be printed initially, with two issues scheduled for 2004 and expansion to a bimonthly expected in 2005.
In April 2004 World Publications bought three titles from Island Media for a reported $17.5 million. The bimonthly Spa, which covered beauty, healthy living, and spa vacations, had circulation of 85,000, and the exotic travel title Islands, with eight issues per year, had circulation of 200,000 and also offered a 200,000-circulation offshoot called Island Weddings & Honeymoons. The third title, an annual called Resorts & Great Hotels, focused on luxury destinations and circulated 340,000 copies. They were published in Santa Barbara, California, where their editorial headquarters would remain. As with past acquisitions, the so-called back-office business functions were relocated to Winter Park. The year also saw the purchase of UsedBoats.com, a company that ran several web sites for boat sales. It was the firm's first Internet venture not directly related to one of its print offerings.
By now, total circulation for all of World Publications' titles was significantly more than two million, and it had successfully launched a string of related web sites. The company's sports and marketing division continued to produce the Pro Water Ski Tour and its accompanying television broadcast, as well as the Pro Wakeboard Tour and the Vans Triple Crown of Wakeboarding events and their respective telecasts. The company also was having success with its World Entertainment subsidiary, which provided professional waterskiers and other programming for theme parks, and another unit that published custom titles for special events.
After more than a quarter-century, World Publications, LLC had grown into a leading publisher of water sports, travel, and lifestyle magazines for an upscale audience. The company also had branched out into promoting sporting events, producing television programs, and operating web sites based on its publications. Its dominance of a number of niche markets with loyal audiences put it in a strong position for continued success.
Principal Subsidiaries: World Sports & Marketing; World Entertainment Services; Syndication and Custom Publishing; New World Travel.
Principal Competitors: Primedia, Inc.; Hachette Filipacchi Medias; Time, Inc.; Condé Nast Publications; The Hearst Corporation.
- Adams, Mark, "New World Order (Terry Snow and World Publications)," Brandweek, March 5, 2001.
- Boyd, Christopher, "Key Deals Open Up World of Publishing Possibilities in Winter Park, Fla.," Orlando Sentinel, December 1, 2003.
- "Caribbean Travel and Life Sold to World Publications," Media Daily, December 11, 1996.
- Kelly, Keith J., "Execs Score in Meigher Sale; Investors Left with Nothing," New York Post, December 30, 1999, p. 31.
- Maurer, Rolf, "Get a Boating Life," Folio, February 1, 1997, p. 25.
- Morgan, Richard, "World Publications Gets Three More," TheDeal .com, April 28, 2004.
- "Terry Snow to Take 'Garden Design' Circ-Backward/Quality-Forward," MIN Media Industry Newsletter, April 30, 2001.
- White, Carolyn, "Sports Magazines Changes at Top," USA Today, December 3, 1987, p. 2C.
Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 65. St. James Press, 2004.