This article was written by Phin Upham
Bernie Goldhirsh founded Inc. Magazine in 1979, the same year that its first issue was released. Goldhirsh was an engineer who graduated from MIT, and he had previous experience working for Polaroid. He also had some experience in the magazine business, having founded and sold “Sail” magazine. Sail was dedicated to the experience of sailing, including reviews on parts and industry news.
It was the profits from “Sail” that he would use to fund the development of Inc. Magazine. Goldhirsh himself chose to stay out of the limelight, but his editor George Gendron seemed confident to take his place as the mouth piece of the magazine.
Inc. has always remained a reputable brand in the space, but it has seen fierce competition from others in the industry. Fast Company, for instance, was able to garner a lot of acclaim during the era of the dotcom boom. The subsequent crash actually benefitted Inc. and helped the magazine to stabilize itself and focus its own reporting. Inc. and Fast Company are now sister publications.
Part of the reason why Inc. remains relevant is the 500 and 5000 lists. Inc. compiles annual lists of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States. The list is extremely specific, looking at revenue growth over a four quarter period, and the companies must be based in the US without being divisions or subsidiaries of other companies. Inc. began this list as the top 100 in 1979. It expanded to the top 500 in 1982 and then the top 5000 in 2007.