Hearst Deal for Airbnb’s Print Magazine?

PINEAPPLE_magazinePineapple was launched with optimism, then ran up against debilitating budget cuts. Can a new deal save the title?

We were thrilled when, taking what they called their “first real steps into storytelling,” Airbnb launched their print magazine Pineapple just over a year ago.

At the time, Fast Company’s Dave Matthews said of the launch, “At first glance, the publishing effort might seem a strange venture for the online accommodations marketplace, but it’s actually the next logical step in Airbnb’s master plan to make its brand as omnipresent in the real world as it is online.”

Anyone who’s been in the content marketing arena for long knows that this is a long-term strategy, unlike a viral social campaign or an ad blast. Airbnb joined a host of other online brands launching print titles, and the initial reception looked good.

So why have they only printed one issue so far?

“Pineapple faced challenges from the start, particularly from wary executives, according to one person involved with the project,” explains Steven Perlberg in The Wall Street Journal.

“Chief Marketing Officer Jonathan Mildenhall, who joined Airbnb from Coca-Cola after the editorial project was under way but before the first issue launched, slashed Pineapple’s budget to focus on other marketing initiatives, this person said. Plans to expand Pineapple to an online offering were also stymied,” Perlberg continues.

Perlberg said Mildenhall declined to talk about the decision to slash funding for the project, which is really a shame because it would be enlightening to know the reason for the change of course. All is not lost, however, as the company is said to be in talks with Hearst Corp. about a possible joint venture print magazine.

“While it’s unclear if the publication would take on the Pineapple moniker, it would likely read more like a traditional travel publication, as opposed to Pineapple’s user-generated feel,” Perlberg explains.

We think the idea is one worth pursuing, and hope to see the company remain committed to a printed content title, although it’s too soon to tell what may happen. Let’s see what the New Year brings on this one.