Is This Really Boston’s Next Media Mogul?

Yes. His name is David Portnoy. And he’s building an empire – one blog post (and one babe) at a time.

THE STATED CREDO of Barstool Sports  is “By the Common Man, for the Common Man,” and the website owes its existence to a particularly common urge: the desire to work for oneself.

After returning to Boston in 1999, Portnoy went to work for Yankee Group, a local technology market research firm, selling the company’s services to telecom customers. Even before his corporate gig, though, he knew he wanted to strike out on his own. His instinct was to find something in the gaming industry because, well, he liked to place bets. So he started cold-calling the HR and marketing departments at various Vegas casinos until a few execs agreed to meet with him. But when he finally flew out to Sin City, he was uniformly told that it was difficult to get into the business without any experience; unless he was willing spend a couple of years as a dealer, he should try something else. The job research wasn’t a total bust, though. A couple of executives from offshore casinos told Portnoy that if he ever created some sort of gaming publication, they’d advertise in it.

So that’s what he did. By August 2003, Portnoy had left Yankee Group and had published his first issue of Barstool Sports, a four-page black-and-white newspaper that featured gambling spreads, sports schedules, and fantasy-league stats. It was distributed at T stops around Greater Boston, and offered neither commentary nor cleavage. Because of the paper’s gambling-related content, PartyPoker, then the largest online card room in the world, threw enough advertising money at it to float the venture for its first year. “PartyPoker gave us our sea legs,” Portnoy says. He didn’t really have a long-term plan, but he also had almost no expenses — he had temporarily moved back in with his parents — and PartyPoker’s cash had bought him enough time to figure things out.

Unlike a lot of people in media — or at least people in old media — Portnoy doesn’t have any romantic notions about the business he’s chosen. It isn’t a calling or a passion or some sort of sacred trust. It’s a way to create something of value — while having a good time. “I always looked at it from a business perspective, like, How can this company make money?” he says.

After he launched the print version of Barstool Sports, he found that big companies weren’t willing to spend their advertising dollars on a publication devoted solely to sports, so he decided to employ the oldest sales gimmick in the universe — eye candy — by putting a picture of Jessica Biel on the cover. It worked, even if it was a blatant copyright violation. Soon after, a Boston photographer who did some work for Barstool Sports asked Portnoy if he’d ever thought about putting a local girl on the cover — a potentially buzz-creating move that would have the advantage of being legal. Portnoy took his advice, and the response was immediate. “From that day, the paper always had a local girl on the cover,” he says. And with the new packaging, advertisers both national (Bud Light, Miller Lite) and local (the Lyons Group, the Briar Group) wanted a piece.

ADVERTISMENT

  • csr

    So the guy the reprints articles from other sites and gives sophomoric, Internet forum users-style commentary is considered a media mogul? Who knew?

  • El

    Viva La Stool!!

  • Jason

    VIVA LA STOOL

  • Jeff

    Viva La Stool!

  • Steve

    Dear first commenter,

    You suck large goat penis.

    Good day sir.

  • andrew

    The girl on the left is HOT!

  • J

    That Boston Magazine would even stoop to interview this lowlife is beyond understanding. He’s misogynist of the highest order and gives his mentally challenged fans a venue on which they can spew hatred and venom. He’s not funny, he can’t write or spell, and he’s one of the ugliest looking dudes on the planet. He might want to see a plastic surgeon about getting rid of the penis on his face masquerading as a nose. That some poor woman would actually marry him is another mystery. Can’t wait til they have a daughter who can grow up looking at Daddy’s website while figuring out how much he hates women.

  • Joel

    a few points about the 1st commentator…

    1) tough to criticize someone for being vulgar with a vulgar comment yourself…kinda steals some of your thunder

    2) don’t use big words like misogynist…Dave doesn’t understand them anyway

    3) not all movies are real…they have acotrs…some people act to get a rise out of people…it happened with you

    4) way to give Dave ammunition…you are now being ridiculed on his site and helping generate revenue for for barstool sports…congrats!

  • michael

    all you haters of barstool can go to hell ! el pres is one of the funniest mother fuckers ever. period thats it you cant dispute it if you dont like it then dont read it end of story as for the rest of us we are all gunna continue staying loyal regardless of the dumbass things you write so you might as well not write them

  • michael

    all you haters of barstool can go to hell ! el pres is one of the funniest mother fuckers ever. period thats it you cant dispute it if you dont like it then dont read it end of story as for the rest of us we are all gunna continue staying loyal regardless of the dumbass things you write so you might as well not write them

  • max

    What a joke this article is. There is no way barstool gets 1.7 million monthly uniques. Portnoy doesnt even know what monthly uniques means. Compare barstoolsports.com to rollingstone.com and you will see rolling stone has double the traffic.

  • Black

    Yo all you haters need to get off elpres’ balls, haters gonna hate, anyways Davey, can you unblock me bro, i want comment on the boston site, viva la stool and yeah you fat chicks need to lose weight, that is all

  • Yeehaw

    How can you ppl hate on the stool? Dude built a ridiculous following from nothing, so you gotta respect that at least. I don’t see anybody else lighting the world on fire getting articles written about them in Boston Magazine. So all you tightasses out there with no sense of humor hatin on Barstool stick to sippin tea with your pinkies in the air, meanwhile us stoolies will be laughin our asses off over at Barstool and rubbin one out to pics of your daughter. VIVA LA FUCKIN STOOL DICKHEADS

  • a

    David Portnoy is a disgrace to Boston. No better than Michael Jackson with this child porn shit.

  • john

    viva la stool!!

  • vinny

    haters gonna hate, slaters gonna slate

  • Nick

    VIVA LA STOOL!

  • http://twitter.com/theWizzl3 Drew Waggoner

    viva la stool!

  • Eric Randall

    Viva la stool

  • oojr
  • John Lydon
    • John

      More cluelessness from people that don’t know a story from a hole in the wall.

  • Týr

    OH yeah a good media mogul….one who allowed a kid with Cerebral Palsy, who was trying to enjoy a freakin Bruins game with his father, to be turned into a laughing stock on his website….

    • John

      Get a grip and a clue. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Typical.

  • Kim Smith

    This guy is a real scumbag. Media mogul my ass. Most moguls at least have a shred of decency or knowledge of the law. This man ruthlessly commits slander and libel against people, knowingly posting horrific stories that are completely baseless. He is a joke to society and should grow up and stop stalking college girls and children. Get a life. Karma my friend.

  • John

    Examples?