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Saturday, January 21, 2006

One Year Later 

I began this blog a year ago yesterday. And while I haven't done an exact count, I've posted an average of once per day in that past year (though the reality is, when the blog muse moves me, I post several times in a day, and then go dark until the next inspriration strikes.)

As an article about this blog in the most recent ASBPE newsletter notes, (for which I can't find an online link), I started this blog for a couple of reasons:

1) Because I've always had a lot to say about b2b media, and because my file folder of b2b media thoughts and ideas was overflowing.

2) I wanted to experiment with the blog form, both for myself and on behalf of my client companies.

(It's worth reading the piece, if only for my less-than-elegant comparison of b2b media with the porn business).

I began blogging with little thought that anyone (other than me) would actually read this. I thought I'd try to "tell it like I see it," with no regard for whether or not the way I see things would elicit positive or negative response. Basically, using the 'diary' model that's somewhat implicit in blog technology, I thought I'd have a conversation with myself, relying on the discipline of having to organize my thoughts into informal little essays to test and develop those thoughts--to change my thinking on the fly, if necessary.

But the conversational borders of this blog began to expand, as I and a few other bloggers began to link to and comment on what each of us had to say. And I watched in some amazement at the growth in traffic to my website, comments, emails and phone calls.

That expansion of the conversation certainly changed this blog, in ways that are both good and bad. The good part? The perspectives of others have helped both broaden and sharpen my thinking. The bad part? Knowing that I was part of a larger conversation has added a burden to the act of blogging--the kind of burden that drug addicts have. It's a rush to have your stuff read, and commented on, by talented peers, but that creates an obligation, and a tendency to self-edit. The obligation: when I don't blog regularly, I feel as though I'm letting my readers down. And I also feel obliged to try to cover as many aspects of b2b media as I can--even when I really don't have much to say about a subject. The self-editing? When I do blog, I tend to wonder how my readers will react to what I've written more than is probably healthy. After all, will the CEO of company XX, who I knows reads me, think I'm out to lunch on a particular topic, or just out to lunch entirely?

This latter feeling is an interesting one for me. During my career, I've written hundred of editorials and opinion pieces about the businesses my magazines were covering. I never had a qualm about wading in on a topic, and never really cared much about the reactions I'd get--any reaction, good or bad, was enough. But when I'm writing about b2b media, which is where I've made my career, I worry about those reactions. After all, if I come across as a doofus, or a shallow thinker, what does that say about the years I've dedicated to this business? What does that say about me?

That's a risk in blogging (as it is the risk in any form of honest communication). I've taken that risk, and for the most part, have enjoyed it immensely. I wish more of my b2b media colleagues would give blogging a shot.

So I enter the second year of B or Not 2B, thanking all of you for your readership and for your convivial conversation and support. I'll try my best to lessen the self-editing, and I'll try to make this blog continually relevant to b2b media professionals. But I'm also going to refocus on making this blog relevant to me.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Simon Dumenco Has It Right 

Advertising Age's Simon Dumenco says there's no such thing as blogging ("Blogging is just writing -- writing using a particularly efficient type of publishing technology"). I agree.

Grab: Ultimately, it comes down to this: In the very near future, there are only going to be two types of media people: those who can reliably work and publish (or broadcast) incredibly fast, and those ... who can’t.

Via MediaBistro.

Related: A few days back, Rex Hammock said "I don't mind being called a blogger, but that's not really what I am."

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Monday, January 16, 2006

VNU Offer 

VNU On The Shelves

My friend Hugo Martin points to a VNU press release (linked above) announcing a buyout offer from a consortium "consisting of AlpInvest Partners, The Blackstone Group, The Carlyle Group, Hellman & Friedman, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Permira and Thomas H. Lee Partners" at 28 to 28.5 euros per share. (They're currently trading around 28 euros).

Reuters says the deal could be valued at as much as $8.8 billion, but that "[a]nalysts at Kempen brokerage said not only was the offer clearly disappointing but that also it was negative that VNU was not in discussions with any other party."

The purchase price may yet be bumped up:

...Rabo analyst Slob said it would not be surprising if the bid were raised to at least 29 to 30 euros per share. Other private equity players such as Apax, Bain Capital and CVC are still interested in VNU, he added.

By my estimates, VNU should clock in about $600 million in EBITDA this year (adjusted for failed IMS transaction costs), which would give the business an estimated 14.6 trailing multiple at the current offer.

And given the consortium making the bid (especially Blackstone and Hellman & Friedman), I certainly wouldn't be surprised if Bob Krakoff ended up playing a significant role in all or part of VNU's operations, should this deal close.

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