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Friday, April 14, 2006

Conley Goes Medieval 

Improving your publication through murder

Paul Conley goes a bit medieval on Dark Ages-era "print guys" in his post, linked above, on a memo from the executive editor of the Miami Herald to his staff which redefines every job in the newsroom to include web responsibility.

Suggests Paul: "...I want you to print that memo. Then wrap it around a baseball bat. And then beat that [print] guy with the bat until he is, at long last, dead."

While I'm sure Paul wouldn't really condone murder as a management tool, I've met enough journalists (and publishers) who wilfully don't get it to worry that magazines won't be able to survive the wait for the retirements of these "print guys."

Given that I'm in Louisville right now, shepherding two children with brand new Louisville Slugger bats, perhaps I could lend Paul some assistance?


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

101, 1105 and Other Numbers 

1105 Media acquires 101communications

More details on the sale of 101communications, from BtoB, linked above.

Among the things I missed in my previous post: Neal Vitale's acquiring company is called 1105 Media, and the private equity backers include Alta Communications (in addition to Nautic.)

Good--and very smart--news: Jeff Klein "president-CEO of 101communications, will assume a strategic, nonoperational role as nonexecutive chairman." I hope that's a continuing gig--Jeff's a very smart publishing executive, and so is Neal Vitale. If they can both play well in the same sandbox, that speaks volumes about 101communications' future.

As I'm on vacation (currently in the vicinity of Nashville), I don't have much time to do a lot of research on all of this. But I did sniff around for more information on 1105--and there's not much to be found. The domain name for was registered by 101communications on March 23, but there's no website.

I bring this up because I received an email from an Andrew Austin, whom I don't know, with a email address. The email purports to announce the first add-on acquisition for 1105 Media. I present a slightly edited version of the email here (since it sounds legit, but I'm not certain of its veracity):

I am pleased to announce our first add-on acquisition, building on the platform of 101communications. 1105 Media, Inc., has acquired Dallas-based business-to-business publisher Stevens Publishing. Stevens is a leading provider of print and online information, in the fields of industrial health, safety, and compliance; security; environmental protection; wastewater management; and home healthcare.

Top products at Stevens include:

Occupational Health & Safety is the dominant magazine in its market, and is supported by print newsletters and electronic news products. This group is headed by Susan Stilwell, based in Chicago.

Security Products is the largest periodical serving the industrial security field, and the only one addressing both the installers and end users. Russell Lindsay leads this group, and splits his time between Dallas and Waco.

Environmental Protection and Water & Wastewater Products are well-positioned in these important and growing markets. Timm Dower is the head of this group and is officed in Tulsa.

Home Health Products, Mobility Management, and the soon-to-be-launched Respiratory Management are fast-growing publications in the expanding field of home healthcare. Karen Cavallo is based in Palm Springs and heads this division.

Stevens headquarters remains in Dallas. Greg Nystrom is the senior executive in that office. Editorial and sales management and staff are unaffected by the acquisition. Circulation, production, finance, administration, and accounting functions will be consolidated with 101 operations nationwide, as we continue to build a broader, stronger base for future growth.

This transaction provides an excellent opportunity to talk a bit about our vision for 1105. We are delighted to have acquired a strong company in 101, with an excellent operational and management team, and strong information products in their markets. The infusion of new capital, through our partners at Nautic and Alta, opens countless opportunities. Our plan for growth is straightforward:

Drive the existing portfolio to new heights of revenue and profitability.

Continue to lead and innovate in the online world.

Add properties - through acquisition and launch - that complement our existing businesses. This would include (cautious) international expansion.

Look to crossover opportunities across divisions - for example, build on the combination of 101's expertise in IT to further extend Security Products into data security.

Expand into attractive new markets through acquisitions

UPDATE: This second acquisition is confirmed, here.


Sunday, April 09, 2006

VNU: Ok, So How About This? 

According to the Financial Times, VNU shareholder Knight Vinke proposes a "Plan B" for the company: sell off 30% to private equity companies, with shareholders retaining a majority interest, hiring new management and hanging a new name on the enterprise.

A better name for this might be "Plan F" or something similar. VNU's management and shareholders seem to have already burned through a few other "plan" letters in their dysfunctional drive to corporate divorce court.

In the meantime, VNU itself is running ads to sell shareholders on the $9 billion private equity offer already on the table. That offer has a May 5 tender deadline.


101communications Sold? 

I've been trying to take a few days off with the family, but the world of b2b media news respects no limits.

A few days ago, Folio: reported that the sale of 101communications LLC is close to done:

According to a report Tuesday in the Dow Jones LBO Wire, 101 owner Frontenac Co. has agreed to sell the company to the private-equity firm Nautic Partners for $75 million, or 10-times EBITDA.

Click the link for more on the valuation, which some observers think is a bit lower multiple.

I give Tony Silber's Folio: a lot of credit for staying ahead of this story. Back in December, Tony reported:

In recent days, observers of the deal scene have been raising Neal Vitale’s name. Vitale, who is based in Los Angeles, is a former president of Petersen Publishing. He’s backed by the equity firm Nautic Partners.

I also give a lot of credit to 101communications' employees and their leader, Jeff Klein, for much patience through this extended sale process. Nothing can harm a company more than internal uncertainty. I trust the deal will close quickly and smoothly, and that all can go on about their business with speed.


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