I thought it would be fun to run a magazine

Ray Washburne's Texas Business is a case study in how not to run a business

Some, of course, are less generous. "This was a magazine that deserved to die," says Texas Monthly publisher Levy. "There was never any reason to bring it back. What every magazine does is compete for people's time, something people don't have a lot of. You gotta be real goddamn good. From what I saw, Texas Business just wasn't offering anything a dozen other sources didn't have already. They were wasting people's time."

Ray Washburne, in characteristic free-market fashion, has moved on. "Was it only last fall I was going through all this?" he asks during a recent interview. "God, it seems like a year ago." Not one to tarry, Washburne has formed a new publishing venture, a limited partnership called Meridian Press, to build home-page sites on the World Wide Web.

It's a highly competitive market already riddled with failures. "Sure, it's high risk, but high reward," Washburne says. "That's what I do."

One week after sitting down for a two-hour interview, Washburne calls from his car phone. "I guess you talked to everyone," he says. "I know how they feel about me. Frankly, I'm a little perplexed at all this animosity toward me. Companies open and close every day. Everybody involved knew the risk.

"Just what are people saying about me?" he asks. "None of them really know me, you know."

During the 20-minute conversation that ensues, four other calls click onto the line. "Can you hold a minute?" he asks with each interruption. "I have to take this."

Sure, no problem. After all, a guy never knows when another window of opportunity might open.

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