The Savior of Condé Nast: Scott Dadich Is The New It Boy of the Mag World

Condé Nast’s partnership with Adobe will allow magazine makers to use the same set of Adobe tools — Creative Suite, which makes InDesign — for both the printed version and the iPad.

This may be Mr. Dadich’s dream, but it’s not his alone. Adobe and Apple have been warring for years. In anticipation of the iPad release, Adobe had been preparing software that would essentially convert Condé Nast’s content into an iPad and iPhone application. Weeks before the iPad was released, Apple said it wouldn’t allow cross-compilers, and said that companies like Adobe had to build everything using Apple’s own native software kit.

The people at Adobe and Wired engineered a quick-fix solution. They decided to do everything they normally do in Adobe’s Creative Suite package, and then simply use pictures of them — PNG files — for the app while keeping little holes open for interactive elements. The Wired app was a ridiculously large file for this reason, and it takes a long time to download. This is something Mr. Dadich and Condé Nast will have to iron out if they want this thing to have real legs. But it was enough to fool consumers, and the success of the June launch was enough to convince people like Tom Wallace to go forward.

There is no indication yet how the Wired app did in July. Condé Nast will not release the numbers — which is probably a good indication that it’s selling poorly when compared to June — but at this point, people seem happy with the direction of things. 

Though three of the four magazines at Condé that have iPad apps have been developed by Condé Nast Digital, the Adobe projects are the most ambitious. Up next: The New Yorker. “I think Scott Dadich is going to play a serious role in developing the design of The New Yorker in print, on devices and on the Web,” said Mr. Remnick, whose magazine is expected to have an October iPad launch. “And I invited him into that process because he precisely understands not only the design so well, but also is interested in making The New Yorker a better version of itself rather than an extension of Scott Dadich.”

 

MR. DADICH NEVER was a big reader of magazines growing up. He was an arts kid in high school, briefly attended the University of Texas to study engineering, but transferred out and went back to his hometown of Lubbock to work in a bagel shop, where he drew the menu lettering and pictures of bagels and coffee cups on a blackboard. When a graphic designer saw his work, he scored a job at an ad agency. He enrolled in the design program at Texas Tech and did his ad agency job on the side to pay his way through college.

His flyover roots have won him fans. “Listen, I love Scott,” said Ms. Leive, the editor of Glamour. “I love and I think lots of other editors love his willingness to share what he knows.”

“He’s this really nice, fun and amiable guy, and people wanna help him and bring him along,” said Mr. Smith.

Fine qualities! But they would mean nothing if he wasn’t scary-smart, too. “You’re talking about finding a way to make digital magazines in parallel with printed magazines without going crazy,” said Mr. Anderson. “There are so many moving pieces with digital magazines. There are thousands of individual elements with portraits and landscapes and interactive elements and all that. You need to think like a spreadsheet to ensure that you get the product out the door.”

“The thing about the technology is, it is always the latest gimmick, the latest hot thing,” said Platon, the photographer. “It’s very seductive. For me, what makes Scott interesting is his respect for content. Of course, he does have this uncanny sensibility of embracing technology — not even what it is now, but what it will be. But he also has a deep understanding and respect for good design. I’m talking about history of design. That’s where most technology goes wrong. The taste level is shit. It looks awful. There’s no intellect behind it. There’s no aesthetic behind it.”

Mr. Dadich, he said, somehow overcomes this, bridging tech and design. “That’s why he’s powerful,” he said. “He has good taste. He has done his homework. He knows the history of design and art and it’s enabling him to do something with the technology.”

 

“THIS IS OUR future, it’s a very big part of our future and it’s in our immediate future,” said Mr. Wallace.

He was talking about digital magazines and how they would play a “major role” at Condé Nast and the rest of the magazine industry. “We’re at the beginning of what I think is going to be just a monumental creative burst for this industry,” he continued. “And Scott is the guy who is there at the beginning of this. He’s helping to birth it — there’s no question about that.”

He said that Mr. Dadich’s role, for now, is to instruct everyone on the lessons he learned from the Adobe experience. Mr. Wallace emphasized that the job is temporary, as Mr. Dadich helps everyone else get up to speed. Then, each magazine will go on its merry way and return to competing directly against its corporate siblings. From there, he wants Mr. Dadich to have a big role in the company to figure out … well, whatever.

But what does Mr. Dadich want? “I’m happiest when I’m creating,” he said. “And I would love to be an editor; I would love to take all of what I’m learning now and apply that specifically to something.”

“There will be a point when I will want to go and create content in this model,” he continued, “and assimilate all the lessons I’ve learned in this process into a physical product — maybe it’s an iPad-only magazine, maybe it’s a launch.”

Whether he’s right or wrong, he’s a believer. “We’re only just starting. The opportunities for connection and engagement are so high. The ability to bring in all those different kinds of experiences and all those different kinds of people who maybe don’t think of paper magazines, or who think of the connection that happens when you find a brand you love.”

jkoblin@observer.com