Monday, May 3, 2010

Did Reed lose passion for B2B?

Busy day here so posting will be light. But I wanted to point to the story BtoBOnline ran today which adds a bit to the Reed Business Information divestiture, and asks the question "did Reed lose their passion for B2B?"

Clearly Jordan Edmiston can be partially to blame for the lack of sales of the properties -- but only somewhat. The role of the M&A professional is match-maker. I used to tell my clients that I will bring in the buyer, help them evaluate the bid (or bids) and give them advice about the due diligence process, but that once the winning bid is determined the majority of my work is done. In other words, get a good lawyer.

But when there are no sales, when the company ends up negotiating with their managers, that doesn't speak well of the sales agents.

In the case of the RBI properties, however, I don't think it makes a big difference. Whether the B2B magazine get bought by a PE firm, a PE backed B2B, or are picked up by new management-created firms, the results are usually the same: tightly run trade media properties with very little room to maneuver.

The best result would be that new start-ups are created that are run like, well, start-ups. In other words, use the properties as spring boards into electronic media companies. They would need to be run like start-ups because there would have to be some staff hires that are in non-traditional areas: application development, open platform web development, etc.

In the meantime, the magazines can be relaunched but they will surely lose money, or at best break-even in the short run. And the future is not in the print products anyway, but in the products that can be created around the print product, utilizing the circulation and customer lists.