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.

Yet the bulk — and the heart — of Barstool isn’t about the sports or girls. “It’s the stuff you don’t find anywhere else,” Portnoy explains. About half of the blog posts come from reader e-mails containing viral videos or photos; the other half are found by scouring the Web for anything funny, bizarre, or outrageous. “There are a million stories to cover every day,” says Keith Markovich, one of Portnoy’s writers in New York City. “It’s just a matter of picking the right one.”

Take, for instance, the recently posted photo of an 800-pound grizzly bear chasing after a 1,600-pound injured buffalo on a road in Yellowstone National Park. Barstool’s treatment? “This Bison Is a Gigantic Pussy.” The photo itself is arresting: an image of two beasts hauling ass down a stretch of pavement — with the smaller animal chasing after the larger. But in the hands of Barstool readers, it becomes something else. One reader offered analysis: “Bison never standed [sic] a chance. No lateral mobility, no quickness to the attack.” Another commenter had a recommendation: “Save this for when the B’s play the Sabres.” Within 48 hours, the item had garnered 120 Facebook shares and two dozen comments.

Ultimately, though, the key to Barstool’s success has been its willingness to evolve. In a span of seven years, Portnoy has built a website, dropped the gambling coverage, run more and more galleries of women, sold merchandise, and organized events such as concerts and contests. “There isn’t something we won’t try or do. We’ve always had money to do stuff — but it’s always, like, Where do you put it? How do you spend it?” he says. “We see where the tide is going and we try to go there quickly.”

Which explains how he figured out how to monetize a website, too. One of the worst-kept secrets in the media world is that many advertisers are desperate to be online-but have no idea what they want from online advertising. Part of the problem is that when it comes to the Web, the most effective ads aren’t ads; they’re pop-culture phenomena that just so happen to sell a product (think: Old Spice guy, E*Trade baby, Budweiser’s best commercials). Portnoy intuitively understands this, which is why Barstool’s promotions can be as entertaining as its posts. These campaigns help advertisers, sure, but they are also conspicuously in line with the ‘Stoolie ethos. That’s how Narragansett Beer’s “Search for New England’s Best ‘Can’” came to be, for example, or Miltons department stores’ “Pimp My Look” contest.

The revenue from those campaigns allowed Portnoy to launch a Barstool Sports.com last year in New York City, and he’d someday like to have outposts in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Chicago. The only thing holding him back, he says, is time and talent. When he was looking for writers for the New York version of Barstool Sports, he decided to hold a contest: 500 people applied for two jobs, and Portnoy ultimately hired 25-year-old Kevin Clancy, who left a desk job in finance, and Markovich, who passed up going to journalism grad school because “blogging for El Prez sounded like way more fun.” Barstool New York’s traffic is about half of Boston’s. “We knew New York City would be a much bigger challenge, but it’s also a much bigger opportunity,” says Clancy. “If we can conquer New York, it’s going to be 10 times as big as Boston’s.”

  • 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?