On Oct. 28, Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire owner of the New Jersey Nets, threw a lavish launch party in Chelsea to celebrate the arrival of Snob magazine in New York. The event was complete with foie gras and a performance by jazz songstress Cassandra Wilson. Some have criticized Prokhorov for bringing a Russian-language title Stateside where most consumers will be unable to read it, but Prokhorov’s business plan actually has potential and he’ll be happy to see his name in the headlines either way.
Snob originally launched in Russia in 2008 with a $150 million investment from Prokhorov. The magazine features upscale coverage of lifestyle, arts, business and sex. Snob expanded to the U.K. in 2009. Here in the U.S., it will sell for $8 a copy with an initial distribution of 20,000 in New York, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco.
Prokhorov was clearly pleased with Snob’s performance in London. With Snob’s high price and approximately 700,000 Russian speakers living in the United States, there is clearly potential for the magazine to find more readers and revenue here as well. Snob‘s editors also cite their existing web readership in New York as a reason to be optimistic about Snob’s launch. Along with the magazine, there is a Snob social networking service and a premium membership with access to events hosted by the magazine that should provide additional cash.
Thus far, Prokhorov has been cagey about Snob’s finances, but he doesn’t need the magazine to make money. Prokhorov is worth approximately $13.4 billion. The investment in Snob is a drop in the bucket for a man who lost $10 billion during the height of the recession and earned most of it back within a year.
Even if it’s not profitable, Snob will also provide Prokhorov with something he can’t buy with cash — the cachet and status being a New York media mogul.
Prokhorov, who famously purchased a billboard across the street from Madison Square Garden that featured him alongside Nets co-owner and rapper Jay Z, is clearly fond of publicity and this latest launch brought him a ton of it. The latest issue of Snob, which is the first to be distributed in New York, features a 12-page interview with Prokhorov.