For the past decade, Smith has been president of Reuters America's new media business. He is charged with building up Playboy's online presence, and with creating new revenue streams through e-commerce, such as original pay-per-view Net content.
"The thing that appeals to me most is that
Playboy spun out its Net division from its publishing group earlier this year. Since last spring, the company has beefed up its online staff from 10 to 30 employees.
The advertising-supported Playboy.com site launched in 1994, and is one of the most visited on the Web. The company's fee-based Cyber Club (CC) was rolled out in July, and--with no advertising--has garnered about 24,000 subscribers who pay either $6.95 a month, $18 a quarter, or $60 annually. Most of the online subscribers aren't subscribers to the print version of the magazine.
But the lion's share of Playboy's $4 million in online profits last year were generated by the Playboy Store, the online version of the company's catalog. Sales also were pumped by last year's launch of CCVideo and CCMusic.
"Buford's track record at building a successful new media business, his understanding of the importance of brands on the Internet, and his experience forging strategic alliances make him particularly attractive to Playboy," the company's CEO, Christie Hefner, said in a statement. Smith will report to her.