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Friday, July 22, 2005

Primedia Sold? Not Yet (Updated) 

Agreement to Buy Primedia Business?

UPDATE: Folio: has sent out a correction noting that no letter of intent has been executed. I still think the interesting grab, below, is interesting.

UPDATE TWO: I hear from a good source that there was some last minute interest in the company from a new bidder, which resulted in a very recent management presentation. But even given this, I've resolved in the future not to post acquisition news until confirmed within an inch of its life.

Folio:'s Tony Silber is reporting that a letter of intent has been agreed between a buyer and Primedia for $375 million, with Apprise Media the likely buyer.

Interesting Grab: The Primedia sale is being handled by Credit Suisse First Boston, the parent company of Advanstar owner of DLJ. CSFB is also handling the pending sale of Advanstar, a fact that raised some eyebrows in the M&A community.

Some sources questioned why the same company would bring two companies to market simultaneously. "There have been statements out there that they have been trying to market both [to the same buyer]," said one source.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Penton's e-Strategy 

Penton Media's ceo, David Nussbaum, made a powerpoint presentation at yesterday's annual meeting, the slides of which you can find here.

There's some interesting insight into the company's e-media operations, which generated $17.6 million in 2004, or 8.3% of total revenues. That revenue is also up 20% in the first quarter of 2005 compared to Q1 2004.

Some key facts:

Penton produced a little more than 100 webcasts in 2004 (resulting in $3.4 million in revenues), and has already done 51 in the first quarter of 2005.

The company delivered 75 million enewsletters in 2004

Penton has 25 digital editions of magazines active or pending.

Overall, the company is still crushed by debt, but adjusted EBITDA was up nearly 26% for Q1 2005 versus Q1 2004. (Net income was $1.8 million versus $9.4 million in interest expense for the quarter).

Additional interesting facts: Penton delivered $4.5 million in roadshow revenues in 2004, versus none in 2002, and now was in-person events in all of its markets.

Disclosure: I own some Penton stock, but as this blog's readers know, it isn't worth a hill of (coffee) beans.


What's in a name? 

Contest: Name this blog!

Sue Pelletier, who blogs at face2face, has ranted against 'X'-names like Xtreme, and now finds herself taken to task for using 2 instead of to in her own blog title. Says a reader: "...replacing 'to' with 2 [is] beyond tired too."

Of course, you're reading B or Not 2B, a name that took me about four seconds to come up with when I launched this blog. I make my living in b2b media, and I happen to love Shakespeare (who else do you know who has a rubbing of Will's epitaph, color-washed and framed and hung in their home? Weird, huh?)

And, Will asked, what's in a name? While Sue may rename her blog--and she's looking for suggestions (click the link at the top of this post)--I think I'll stick it out. In fact, this may motivate me to finish my next "Observations on Media Brands" post.

If you'll recall, my first observation was that all true media brands are ultimately personal and human. My second observation is, generally, that a true media brand transcends its name.

And while this blog certainly isn't a true media brand, what I call it is less relevant than what I post. And what I call it is far less relevant than what you, the reader, think of it and more importantly, how you think about it.

More on all this later. Personally, I think Sue should forget about renaming her blog, and stand up to the "to for 2" naysayers.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

New Religion News Blog 

Our client, Religion News Service, has launched a blog, which can be found here.

As B or Not 2B readers know, Religion News Service is a secular newswire which covers religion as a news story, and earns its revenues by selling the right to republish stories in other media (we're syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate, Canadian Press and self-syndicated to non-newspaper clients.) Our subscribers fall into several categories: consumer newspapers, other consumer media, religious media (newspapers and magazines) and websites. We also have a small and growing group of read-only subscribers, who see the service as a newsletter.

Over the past few years, RNS has faced many of the challenges that paid content providers face. Our subscribers are experiencing lower revenues, tightened news wells, and budget cuts. We've grown our revenues by focusing on leveraging the brand among our clients--we've launched a specialty press release distribution service, built our photo and image service, and have expanded our consulting practice (we consult with organizations who want to better understand how to cover religion as a news story, or better understand the implications of religion events on their businesses.)

And we've begun to offer more free content. This is the true challenge for us, because subscription revenues still constitute the majority of our income, and because we're essentially a b2b play--selling our services to businesses who then sell their services to consumers. We hope that the free offerings will drive more more subscribers, of course. And ultimately, we'd like to drive more general traffic to the website and to our feeds, though we have no intention of becoming a consumer play (Beliefnet has that market space well and truly locked up).

The RNS blog is a continuation of the free content tightrope we're walking. We're trying to make access to our free offerings more widely available, give a taste of the pieces we're working on which aren't free, and point to interesting quotes and pieces in other media.

Essentially, we hope the RNS blog will help build the community of religion writers, editors, media owners and religion professionals we already serve, which we further hope will help us build alternative revenues streams which will both leverage and support the core offering of the service--which is the best coverage of religion news available anywhere.

It's an interesting journey. If you have the chance to check out the blog, let me know what you think. And if you know anyone who'd be interested in seeing the blog, please point them to it.


Monday, July 18, 2005

E-Paper in Scotland 

Scientists develop newspaper of future

Scotland's University of Paisley Thin Film Centre has developed a working prototype of an e-paper newspaper, according to The Scotsman (linked above).

Grab: "Many new applications can be opened up from this including interactive posters, greetings cards and electronic books. It has the potential to replace newspapers, but one of the biggest problems we have is that people like the feel of handling a book or newspaper.

"They have told us that they would prefer two A4 pages so they can flip one over as they would with a book, so that is something we are looking in to."

Via IWantMedia.


Martha Stewart: Overvalued or Undervalued? 

Martha Stewart's Next Big Project: Justifying Her Investors' Expectations

Interesting NY Times article, linked above, on Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. With the stock nearly tripling in value in the past year, is it over- or undervalued? Some analysts say the stock price is too high; some analysts say the stock price is just right. Do analysts know anything at all?

Sample grab: By the Cramer calculus, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia's current $1.5 billion market capitalization makes a certain sense. "You have a company that is undervalued theoretically," he said, "even while it is overvalued practically."


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