Monday, April 19, 2010

Reed presents B2B media industry a chance for fresh start; can a real New Media company rise from the ashes?

When a company like Reed Business Information decides to close some titles there are usually two ways the titles are resurrected: either the former staff finds some financial backing to buy up the assets and try to keep their titles alive, or a competitor swoops in to pick off the remains.
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A third way, however, is my hope: that a new company might arise from the ashes to take advantage of this opportunity. The third way would be for a new company to take these titles, their good brand names and customer loyalty, and create a New Media company that is less focused on the profitability of an individual print product, but on delivering B2B news and information using all the forms at the disposal of publishers today. In other words, a true cross platform publishing company that delivers content using print, web, mobile, tablet, and e-mail formats -- as well as other electronic formats now open to publishers (like e-books sold through Amazon and Apple, for instance).

In the late nineties there were investment firms that were created to make these kinds of investments. Sadly, the firms investing in B2B media this past decade have been private equity companies who believed they knew how to wring out profits from properties they felt were bloated. Who needs one publisher per magazine when a publisher can handle multiple titles? Who needs publishers at all?  (In my last position my name appeared on nine titles as either publisher or group publisher -- how crazy is that?) I can not imagine a PE, or traditional NYC based investment firm stepping up to take advantage of this situation.

What is needed, if I can sound biased, is a West Coast firm -- one used to investing in tech. A newly created company, one backed by an investment firm with contacts in the software industry is precisely what is needed now. The first B2B who can create its own apps, can sell e-books for the Kindle and iPad, who understands that its readers not only want content in different formats, but wants different content for those devices, will have the field to themselves.

(Disclosure: I was a group publisher at RBI for a short while, but not at any of the 23 magazines being shuttered. I did compete with several of the books, though, while at McGraw-Hill and SGC, and have kept close tabs on many of the others including the restaurant and lodging magazines because of a distant competitive situation.)

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

your concept is right on...good luck finding the right investor to give it a go!