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Home >Press > IS Profiles Merges

Media | Press Releases | Founders | Media Kit

TheStandard

The Network
Profile of the Week

Craig Forman
Cofounder and CEO, MyPrimeTime

November 14, 1999

Profile: Worlds Merge
by Leslie Crawford

Most journalists who leave the supposedly noble profession of journalism for a bigger paycheck in the business world usually feel at least a twitter of ambivalence. Journalists even call it "moving to the dark side." But MyPrimeTime's CEO Craig Forman, formerly a Wall Street Journal bureau chief, feels no such regret for his switch. In fact, he's gleeful about it."It's easy to say I've sold out, to say that I've gone to the dark side. Shakespeare called it filthy lucre," says Forman, whose site MyPrimeTime launched Oct. 21. "I feel great about it."

Nor is Forman about to make any apologies for creating a site that, like many today, blithely blurs the line between editorial and advertising; the plan is to use content to sell products and services as much as to inform readers. With the site serving up articles such as "Fearless Aging," "Better Sex Through Chemistry," and "Caution Cyclists: Cush Your Tush," no one could rightly accuse Forman of indulging in hard-hitting journalism.

Put it this way: If any site were created for thirtysomething 's Michael and Hope and Elliot and Nancy (now in their fortysomethings), MyPrimeTime would be it. "Without being buzzwordy," says Forman, "we know from our own lives that we're all time-compressed. We're trying to reach a certain psychographic, to give those people access to life tools." Falling between the ages of 35 to 54 and numbering some 81 million Americans, boomers make up the country's largest and most affluent demographic. Innumerable news-cum-e-commerce sites, including BabyCenter and Women.com, hope to make a buck off boomers. But few sites are so self-consciously and boldly targeting this group.

Forman joined forces with former CNNfn colleagues Helen Whelan and Donald Van De Mark to give birth to MyPrimeTime. Abandoning their posts at New York-based CNNfn, the triumvirate made the journey out West, says Forman, "in our covered wagon." In July, pioneers' dust still on their blazers, they set up camp in the wilds of San Francisco. That's the abbreviated version of how a one-time foreign correspondent one who filed reports from the Gulf War came to head a Web site advising yuppies how to best spend their time and money, lots and lots of money.

During Forman's 13 years at the Journal, he held many posts European overseas correspondent, London deputy bureau chief, Tokyo bureau chief and director and editor of Dow Jones Business Information Services International. It was at this juncture that Forman went to the dark side. He joined Infoseek , holding positions as editor and VP of product management. In a pattern symptomatic of his self-proclaimed attention deficit disorder, he leaped from one high-tech job to the next, holding a brief stint at Time Inc.'s new media division and then at CNNfn Interactive, before catching the entrepreneurial bug.

"Rather than making this foreign correspondent becomes business suit guy," says Forman ready to suggest the best spin for the profile being written about him this is more "about me wanting to play a role in how the world works." But perhaps he felt more vital, had more of a hand in improving the world, when he was reporting from Kuwait, Yugoslavia and Africa than overseeing features on liposuction. "Why make that value judgment?" says Forman in his defense. "Of course, there's a big difference about Africa slipping backwards and ways of making your body look better," he says. "But both are important to people."

There's no question that Forman is as serious as he is sincere in his conviction that MyPrimeTime's mission is a virtuous one. "We're here to save people," he says, "to show them to take control of their lives. "Part of what we're standing for is having more balance in our lives."

Whether boomers want to be saved remains in question. The site is too new, Forman rightly asserts, to rate fairly its number of hits or success in attracting advertisers. To date, MyPrimeTime has only a sprinkling of them. The company's primary sponsors, Fidelity Investment and Miadora, appear in the more traditional Web banners. But Forman says his hope is to integrate editorial and advertising routinely. At the conclusion of an article about the best new food processor, for instance, readers could order their favorite brand. Or in one hyping the virtues of a $4,000-a-week spa, readers would be directed to a link for the spa's Web site.

While the articles are jaunty and nicely written, the overall site feels a little thin and lackluster. At least to a 38-year-old journalist trying to balance the demands of a mortgage, a toddler and two cars in short, MyPrimeTime's prime psychographic this site doesn't yet hold enough lures to convince her to stay for an extended visit. But MyPrimeTime may be still finding its way.

Forman says he's also finding his way, trying to take MyPrimeTime's own advice on how best to enjoy his personal and professional life, and eschew the kind of 12-hour-days he knew at CNNfn. Forman says he schedules a weekly family meeting and makes sure he spends time with his wife and 7-year-old son Eliot.

"Life just gets better," says Forman, who apparently learned as a journalist how to deliver the quotable sound bite. "That's why we say we're not growing old, we're growing up."



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