The colourful history of National Business Review has finally ended after 50 years. It hung on a year longer that I predicted with sales at the end less than a tenth of its heyday, thus suffering the fate of all print media.
Three decades back it was on death’s door when Barry Colman bought it for a dollar. Colman had publishing form, producing freebie trade publications which he reputedly sold for around $15m. Taking ownership, he promptly banged himself in the NBR Rich List at $100m and to much amusement, remained at that figure for the next quarter century. This has to be the greatest investment feat in history, namely to (allegedly) have 100m which over decades never rose or sank a cent.
Last year the sucker, new owner Colman had sold NBR to, an ex-butcher called Todd Scott, now reduced to living in a motor home, finally settled up with Colman. At the same time he produced the last ever Rich List and surprise, surprise, to much amusement, Colman after a quarter century at $100m, abruptly rose to $150m. One suspects this nonsense was part of a final settlement deal. Plainly this bullshit meant a lot to Colman.
That said, it cannot be denied that under his ownership NBR evolved into a first-rate publication. Under Scott’s it faded away to a pointless pamphlet. The end of NBR also marks the end of the Rich List which has a colourful history.
As long-time NBR editor Neville Gibson once told me, the genuinely rich found it embarrassing and intrusive while the genuinely poor dreamers were always appealing for inclusion. Thank God it’s finally ended.
Meanwhile in some sad videos Scott rambles on about driving about in his motor home wherever life takes him while simultaneously continuing NBR as an online subscribe ‘service’. Good luck with that, more so in the face of quality competition from “Business Desk” with its high calibre industrious writer/owners Brian Gaynor and Patrick Smellie. Hopefully someone with a sense of humour will now write a book about NBR’s colourful history.