Fish Story

Red Herring Editor Tony Perkins is a self-described maverick, a stylish fast-talker with a knack for making friends and influencing people in the high-tech world. Not bad traits for a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, but are they what it takes to publish a "m

"The one thing that makes me a little queasy about the Red Herring is the way they sell their expertise in more ways than just on the printed page," says Folio's Russell. "You have to ask yourself if this is a business or a vehicle for another business."

But where others spot a potential conflict, Perkins sees another improvement over his unsettling days at Upside.

"I never gave up on my vision to create a media company and not just a magazine," Perkins says. "That was one of the biggest departures I had with the board at Upside. I wanted to do a lot of things, but the business-school philosophy is focus, focus, focus. The Herring philosophy is to open as many revenue streams as possible."

But for a publisher who claims his magazine has no real competition, he's determined to erase the ghost of his Upside failure, to prove that he's part of Silicon Valley culture and not just a pretender. "The people at Upside are just jealous because the Red Herring is kicking their butts editorially and in terms of ad revenue," says Perkins.

At the core of any business strategy is deception -- putting one over on the competition. The magazine pays tribute to the importance of deception in the front of every issue with "The Lore of the Red Herring," 200 words that explain both the origin of the term and the reason Perkins named his magazine after a fish. As it turns out, British fugitives of the 1800s made a practice of rubbing stinky herrings across the trail to "divert the bloodhounds hot in their pursuit," as the magazine puts it. "Later, in debate and detective mysteries, the 'red herring' described any clever device used to distract people from the main issue." In the 1920s, American investment bankers began referring to preliminary investment prospectuses, which have covers printed in red, as red herrings to warn investors that they are not final or complete.

A ruse. A feint. A dodge. An artifice. When you think about it, the Red Herring is an obvious name for a magazine created by Tony Perkins.

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