Are You Surrounding Your Market?
Tannen was a lovely, civilized guy; short with a mop of curly hair and owlish glasses. In the 1990s, Tannen invested in Jay Walker’s Priceline.com and walked away with a tidy $23 million, which delighted me.
As we settled down for lunch, I asked Chuck if Folio was profitable. He wagged his flat right hand and indicated the answer was comme ci comme ça, or so-so. He then went on to explain:
Folio is the flagship. It spawns books, special reports, the Folio conference, consulting assignments, list rentals and card decks. When someone in the magazine business buys something from us or attends the Folio Show, it is our license to go after him and sell him anything and everything we have. It is our intention to surround the industry.
Tannen’s line about surrounding the industry remains etched in my memory. At the time I thought it a brilliant concept. I still do.
American Girl: the Beginnings
In the 1980s, Peggy and I were running WHO’S MAILING WHAT! out of our house in Stamford, Conn. It was a newsletter based on the giant archive of direct mail and catalogs we were acquiring from correspondents around the country.
I was vaguely aware of the sumptuous, oversized Pleasant Company catalog offering up-market dolls to little girls. It was a niche thing, and we included it in our listings, but having neither daughters nor granddaughters, we never paid much attention.
The company was founded in 1986 by Pleasant T. Rowland, a former elementary school teacher and TV news reporter who dreamed up the American Girls Collection which is described on the Web site:
The American Girls Collection and its contemporary counterpart, American Girl Today, were created especially for girls ages 7 to 12—girls who are old enough to read and still love to play with dolls. For younger girls we offer Bitty Baby, a line of soft, huggable baby dolls, board books, and accessories that encourage creative play and nurturing behavior.