Posted by: Louis Lavelle on August 6, 2010
On Monday, a new website is launching for b-school students that I think a lot of our readers will be interested in. John Byrne, the former editor of businessweek.com and something of a legend in the b-school community for his role in launching one of the world’s first and most influential b-school rankings more than two decades ago, is the man behind the site. One of its key features is a new b-school ranking.
The site—which, as you’ll gather from the description that follows, would be a competitor to our own Bloomberg Businessweek B-School offerings, is called Poets & Quants. And from the looks of it, Byrne is attempting to make it the go-to place for prospective b-school students researching MBA programs, or anyone looking for news and analysis from the world of management education. I got a sneak peek at the site this week and it looks like it will include both original content and curated stories and blog posts from other media outlets, as well as what Byrne calls “a serious community of users,” although it’s unclear exactly what that means. It’s launching on Monday with a new social network for MBA applicants and students, as well as pages, feeds, and channels on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
The site—which Byrne says will make money on ads, e-commerce, webinars, virtual trade shows, sponsorships, and lead generation, as well as in-depth research reports on individual schools—is pretty impressive considering that most of it was created by one guy: Byrne. There are a few things you won’t find anywhere else. One of the most interesting is the head-to-head comparisons between schools (MIT vs. Harvard for example), which go well beyond the schools’ marketing hype for an in-depth discussion of the pros and cons of each. Other content strikes me as filler: advice from admissions directors, testing experts, and the like.
Clearly, the centerpiece of Byrne’s effort is two new rankings. On Monday, the site will include a ranking of the top 50 U.S. business schools and the top 30 non-U.S. business schools. I’m not at liberty to disclose the top-ranked schools, but the methodology is fair game. To calculate its ranking, Poets & Quants combines the weighted rankings of five other publications: Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, the Financial Times, and the Economist. Byrne calls the new rankings “the most authoritative rankings ever published.” I’ll defer to the wisdom of the crowd on that one. Byrne says every MBA ranking is flawed in one way or another; I don’t see how combining five “flawed” rankings into one results in the “best and most reliable” ranking around, but I quibble.
Byrne, a former executive editor of Businessweek magazine and former editor-in-chief of Fast Company magazine, is perhaps uniquely qualified to develop a new set of rankings for a new day and age. In 1988, at Businessweek, he launched what was then the first regularly published rankings of MBA programs, authored four editions of Businessweek's guide to the top business schools, and built out the rankings franchise on the web in the mid-1990s. He knows a thing or two about business, too, having authored a record 58 cover stories during his 22 years at Businessweek, as well as eight business books, including a collaboration with GE Chairman Jack Welch, "Jack: Straight The Gut," and a highly critical examination of former Sunbeam CEO Al Dunlap, "Chainsaw: The Notorious Career of Al Dunlap in the Era of Profit-At-Any-Price."
In addition to the new b-school rankings, Byrne will also be unveiling a new "ranking of rankings"--an analysis of which media outlet does the best job of ranking b-schools. I'm actually a little surprised that somebody didn't do this a long time ago--after all the rankings "space" has been pretty crowded for a while now. But if, like me, you're a little skeptical of a guy who invented one ranking pontificating on all the rest, I would take this ranking of rankings with a big grain of salt. Unless of course Businessweek's ranking is No. 1, in which case Byrne is right on the money.