MEDIA
09/11/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Bonnie Fuller, Tina Brown Head Online: Can Former Magazine Powerhouses Succeed On The Web?

It wasn't so long ago that Tina Brown and Bonnie Fuller were busy transforming entire magazine genres. They lived on opposite ends of the taste spectrum -- Brown edited Vanity Fair and the New Yorker, Fuller revamped Glamour, then re-invented the celebrity gossip concept at Us Weekly and later the Star -- but the two had a similar formula: a willingness to throw out the old model, a feel for where the culture was heading and a forward-driving tenacity that became legendary in media circles.

Then old-media companies mostly stopped generating the large, ambitious projects Fuller and Brown cut their teeth on, and both editors stepped away from magazines. Now this summer finds both embarked on -- what else? -- Web start-ups. Fuller has started a Web company aimed at women ages 20 to 40, focusing on -- what else? -- celebrity news. Brown will run a news and culture site called The Daily Beast (after the fictional newspaper in Evelyn Waugh's 1938 novel "Scoop"), which is funded by Barry Diller's InterActiveCorp and will launch in the fall.

Brown and Fuller arrive with hefty resumes in a space where success in other quarters has not always proven transferable. What tends to hit on the Web is the home-grown, the grass-roots, the improvisational. Can either succeed on the Web, where all of their seeming advantages may turn out to be old-media baggage? "Not everyone crosses over so easily," said Kara Swisher, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and columnist who is now co-executive editor of the tech news and opinion site AllThingsD.com. "But you never know who's going to do well."

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