David Portnoy Profile: 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.

Depending on which numbers you look at, the value of Barstool Sports is anywhere from $220,000 to $900,000. Impressive, but nowhere near that of anything in the Gawker Media stable of properties (which includes Deadspin), and it’s unclear how much El Prez is taking in. Maybe he doesn’t even really know. “Our revenue is all over the place — it comes and it goes,” he says. “Our books are a mess.” This much is known: His five employees do not yet get benefits (Portnoy hopes to offer them this spring, he says), but the company was able to front at least $120,000 for Barstool-sponsored events this year. It has also been doing a brisk business selling merchandise. In October, one T-shirt netted the company $50,000 in three weeks. On a personal level, El Prez seems to be doing okay. His wife wears a sparkling two-carat engagement ring, and the newlyweds just bought a 2010 Audi Quattro.

The most important measure of the company’s success, though, is the traffic numbers, which continue to rise dramatically. In 2006 BarstoolSports .com was seeing about 100,000 unique visitors monthly. Since then, the audience has been growing at a compound rate of 86 percent year over year. Today, the Boston site attracts 1.4 million unique visitors a month. Such growth has earned Portnoy notice from large media corporations. Recently, the Philadelphia-based entertainment behemoth Comcast approached Portnoy to discuss the future of the site. For such companies, acquiring a niche-market blog — with a distinct brand, fanatical readers, a built-in audience, established traffic, and a platform to expand into other cities — is often cheaper and easier than starting one from scratch. Portnoy is not philosophically opposed to selling out. “I’d sell it in a heartbeat if someone offered me $10 million,” he says.
IT’S MISCHIEF NIGHT, the night before Halloween, and the line to get into the sixth annual Barstool Sports Wicked Halloween Party at the Harp near TD Garden is 50 people deep. Earlier in the day, El Prez warned ‘Stoolies to get there early — “it’s going to fill up fast” — and by 8:30 p.m., the place is packed with an army of costumed, well-lubricated college kids. Over the course of the night, at least 1,000 additional ‘Stoolies will show up — and get turned away — because the Harp hit its capacity of 700 people.

Inside, Portnoy can hardly make his way through the crowd. A gaggle of girls approach him and start to chat about their costumes. Before they can finish, three ‘Stoolies lean in with their hands out. “Hey, Prez, great to meet you!” they yell, with the sort of excitement usually reserved for meeting the actual president. A group behind them is waiting to take a picture.

“I’m bigger than the Beatles!” Portnoy yells at me.

While I’m waiting in line for the restroom, one girl shares that she’s visiting from Connecticut. “My boyfriend is a big fan of Barstool. He’s been reading it for years,” she says, blinking blankly through her purple spider eyelashes.

On the stage, Paul Gulczynski, the site’s sales rep, is dressed up as Ben Roethlisberger and wearing one of the company’s most tasteless — and popular — pieces of merchandise: A black-and-gold T-shirt displaying the number 7 surrounded by the words “Throwing Picks, Assaulting Chicks.”

Close to midnight, it’s time to go. As I leave, I check out the line of twentysomethings hugging the wall outside the bar. Only one thing has changed since I arrived. It’s grown longer.

  • 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?