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Start Me Up

The letters P.O.V. were once synonymous with I.O.U. Today the fledgling men's magazine, co-founded by a Penn alumnus working off his laptop, has multimillion-dollar backing, an office equipped with its own bar, and a new nightlife supplement called Egg.

By Susan Lonkevich

LARRY SMITH, ASC'91, hadn't spoken to Randall Lane, C'90, since the two of them were keeping late nights at 34th Street and The Daily Pennsylvanian. Then one day three years ago he turned on his answering machine and heard a familiar voice saying, "Hey -- I'm starting a magazine. You probably haven't heard of it because it's new ... "
   The magazine that Lane was creating back in 1995 was P.O.V., and a lot of people have heard of it now. Named AdWeek's start-up of the year, the "guy's survival guide" with the work-hard, play-hard philosophy currently draws a circulation of 260,000. Once assembled with "tape and bubblegum," a stack of credit cards, and a host of IOUs to former Penn writers like Smith, P.O.V has since received a multimillion-dollar investment from Freedom Communications that has allowed it to be run "like a real magazine."
   Its creators are so confident now, in fact, that they've launched a new product this month, a nightlife supplement called Egg.
   "My partner [P.O.V. publisher Drew Massey] and I both worked at Forbes," recalls the 30-year-old Lane, "and neither of us saw a magazine out there for professional young guys like us. GQ and Esquire were skewing a little bit older and fancier, and then we had Details for guys in their twenties, which seemed to glorify not having a job and piercing your nipple. There was no magazine that spoke to us, so we figured we'd just do it."
   P.O.V., says Lane, "is a complete lifestyle magazine," and it tackles such diverse subjects as on-line trading and tequila, ski resorts and startup companies, birth control and business suits. The average reader is a man in his late twenties with an income of $50,000, but some 20 to 30 percent of readers are women. (In fact, Lane and Massey had considered creating a magazine for young professionals of both sexes, but after consulting with experts, realized that they needed a focused audience and advertising base to be successful.) Good timing has been another ingredient in P.O.V.'s success, he believes. "I think 10 years ago this demographic might have been a little more consumerist. This is about living life to your fullest. It's a real magazine. I think we're living in a real decade. It's not as much about what you have as it is about what you're doing."
   These days, P.O.V.'s not only selling copies, but earning some praise from the pros. "It's fun, I think it's smart. I think they've carved out their own niche," says Eliot Kaplan, C'78, editor of Philadelphia magazine, another publication brimming with the bylines of Penn alumni. "They've got pretty good people on their cover, and it's a nice-looking book. And as much as I like GQ and Details and Men's Health, I think it's an alternative to them. I also think it's great that all these Penn guys are there doing it."
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Copyright 1998 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 5/15/98