25 Years of Worth

Worth’s first quarter century reported on, celebrated, warned against and predicted the events and trends of its time. There were a lot of hits, a few misses and plenty of fascinating stories. Here are some of the highlights.

BY WORTH | Apr 26, 2017


Worth’s first issue featured a page on a little-known “Boy Wonder” of finance. Accompanied by a brooding portrait, the article posed the question, “He’s proven he’s loyal. But can Jamie Dimon lead?”


In a look at the burgeoning personal computer market, Worth touted such now-proven companies as Apple, Microsoft, Novell and Lotus—but also had praise for DOS-centric software Quarterdeck, which was sold in a fire sale in 1998 after numerous leadership changes, and a startup called Slate (no relation to the online magazine) that was pushing the stylus as the future of computing.


In an issue that focused on new technology, the cover predicted, “It’s 2001. You’re Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams. Investing for the 21st Century.” The dot-com bubble ruined this idea, of course. Worth also interviewed Howard Schultz about his dream for Starbucks, the new coffee company he had recently taken over as CEO. “I can’t really see any limit to the number of stores we could have, or where we could have them,” he said.


Blockbuster was ultrahot, but Worth was skeptical: “Once America’s living rooms are linked by interactive systems, consumers will be able to order any movie they want, at any time, for a small monthly fee. And if that’s the case, why would they ever drive to a video store again?”


Worth examined the fraudulent selling techniques of Jordan Belfort, founder of Stratton Oakmont and the eventual subject of The Wolf of Wall Street, shortly after the firm was sued by the SEC. “Investors are never safe from boiler-room tactics,” said the piece.


Worth ran an in-depth feature exploring the technological, psychological and social impact of a new trend: “telecommuting,” as working remotely was then called.

APRIL 1997

Jim Cramer, now of CNBC’s Mad Money, wrote a feature about Worth’s then owner titled, “How to Fix Fidelity.” The piece decried the company’s sagging performance and its executives’ inability to address its customers’ concerns. Cramer also excoriated Fidelity for its notoriously cagey attitude toward the press. “The press should be taken seriously. Believe me, if it isn’t, it will eventually force you to take it seriously.” A year later, Fidelity sold its stake in Worth.


Our cover featured future-POTUS Donald Trump upside-down, with cash falling out of his pockets to represent the slippery aspect of wealth. Trump had recently bounced back from much-publicized bankruptcies that left him with a negative $900 million net worth, only to be flush with $1.7 billion at the time the magazine photographed him. For the image, we strapped the tycoon to a rig, raised him in the air and inverted him. Asked why he’d allow us to subject him to this, he responded, “I like Worth.” In another Trump mention, Worth’s April 1999 issue included an illustration by Bruce McCall that imagined the White House with a massive gold extension after a Trump “rehab.”

MARCH 1998

Business news was big in the ’90s, but few if any publications wrote about transgender issues. Worth’s feature on Deirdre Mccluskey, an eminent transgender economist who had recently transitioned from male to female, was a standout.

JUNE 1998

In our search for “The Next Hot Market,” we correctly predicted Japan’s continued malaise and an Irish boom. But thanks to economic stagnation and high employment in Germany, we assured that that country “almost certainly won’t be Europe’s hottest market.” Whoops.

MAY 1999

prescient prediction in our “Stocks to Avoid” column: “Yahoo is a poster child for the internet craze, which is certain to end badly.” The stock, then at $37, rose to a high of about $108 at year’s end, then plummeted to about $5 by fall of 2000.


With the world still living in the dot-com bubble, we dedicated much of this issue to the internet. In “Visions://The Internet in 2002,” Silicon Valley visionaries Pierre Omidyar of eBay and Sun Microsystems’ Eric Schmidt, now executive chairman of Alphabet, prophesied the internet’s transformation into a utility, the rise of built-to-order products and 24-hour connectivity. It was too much for some readers: In a later issue, several wrote in ridiculing such notions. “A comparison of the internet to food or water as a necessity?” wrote one. “That’s humorous but a little overboard, as is the belief that malls will be crushed because everyone will sit in front of their computers in dark rooms, buying goods.”

MARCH 2000

Our “Get Used to Growth” feature predicted that by 2012 “the national debt goes away completely.” The story might have been more accurate in its prediction that by 2025 there will be 700 billionaires in the U.S.

MAY 2001

In our third annual list of the “50 Best CEOs,” we were bullish on our number two: Jeffrey Skilling, CEO of Enron, who graced the cover along with Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer and Morgan Stanley’s Phil Purcell. Enron chairman Kenneth Lay said of Skilling, “I’m not sure he has a nonstrategic bone in his body.” Those kind words would not be helpful to either of them when, three months later, Skilling resigned as CEO and Enron’s fraudulent accounting practices sent the company spiraling into bankruptcy.

APRIL 2002

A cover feature called “How the Rich Get Richer” offered an “Insider’s Guide to Alternative Investing,” then a new approach, noting that the asset class will soon “move into the mainstream.”

MAY 2002

A feature called “Larry Ellison’s Final Frontier” examined the Oracle founder’s interest in longevity years before the subject became a trendy focus of billionaire investors. Reflecting the thinking that would later bring others to the field, Worth said, “Ellison has scaled corporate heights, sailed the oceans of the world, lived a flamboyant billionaire lifestyle. The one thing he has left undone is figuring out how to make it last forever.”

DECEMBER 2003, APRIL 2004, JULY 2005

Marking a shift in focus, Worth turned its attention to topics of interest to the high net worth. In December 2003, the magazine launched a four-part series, “Building Your Family’s 100-Year Plan,” that aimed to help readers retain their fortunes over generations. In April 2004, Worth addressed security with a piece on kidnapping and ransom insurance. “Pursuing a low-risk lifestyle is the real key to keeping our families and ourselves safe,” it said, noting a “growing animosity toward Americans” worldwide. And in July 2005, Worth introduced the then-new alternative to traditional healthcare providers with a cover story on concierge medicine. Weighing the pluses and minuses of such individual care, the piece didn’t shy away from ethical implications: “We shouldn’t have to go this way,” said one affluent woman whose son needed medical care. “The medical care that Sam is getting should be the same medical care available to the kid down the street.”

JULY 2007

Worth took a skeptical look at recent tech mergers, among them Google’s acquisition of YouTube and Rupert Murdoch’s $580 million purchase of MySpace (oops). Worth was unimpressed by Amazon’s recent foray into selling products other than books, writing, “It makes about as much sense as Ben & Jerry’s saying: ‘Everyone knows our name and loves our ice cream, so let’s sell books and compete with Amazon.’” Also oops.


A newly redesigned Worth hit newsstands. Its illustrated covers and three sections remain mainstays of the magazine today. Among the people profiled in the first issue was Philip Levine, who was then considering running for mayor of Miami Beach. He ran and won in 2013 and has been mayor of the South Florida city since.


Worth released its first “Power 100,” an annual list of the 100 most powerful people in finance. Our pick for the No. 1 spot that year? Ben Bernanke, then chairman of the Federal Reserve. Other honorees included Elizabeth Warren, then a law professor at Harvard; a pre-scandal Steve Cohen; and Mohamed El-Erian and Bill Gross, both then still at PIMCO.


Worth’s “Blue Issue” looked at ways to invest in and build companies around water. Four years later, with California in drought, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report and Kiplinger’s did the same.


In “Lessons from the Fall” Worth asked, “What, if anything did we learn from the financial crisis?” The answer: not much.


Worth picked San Diego as one of the 15 most dynamic cities in the U.S. thanks in large part to how well the city managed its symbiotic economic relationship with Mexico. President Trump’s border wall and tariffs threaten that tie today, but Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a Republican, is fighting back. In January of this year, he pledged “unwavering support” for San Diego’s close ties with its neighbor to the south. “Keeping trade moving in both directions safely and securely is important to San Diego’s economy and helps create local jobs,” he told the San Diego Union–Tribune.



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