Friday, June 17, 2005

Trouble with sale of Primedia Business

Now that potential buyers have done their due diligence and gotten a good look at Primedia Business, the sale of the company may be in some trouble. Folio magazine reports that the folks who had been interested in buying the unit aren't so interested anymore.
According to Folio, part of the reason is "a perceived loss of experienced management" at Primedia Business. The article quotes one source who says “There is so much legacy knowledge and relationships that left.” That same source complains that “there doesn’t seem to be a coherent strategy.”
No kidding.
I think it's been pretty clear to anyone who even glanced in Primedia's direction that things have been a nightmare for ages. (FULL DISCLOSURE: I'm the former vice president for online content at Primedia Business.) Primedia's owner -- the private investment firm KKR -- knows a hell of a lot about money, but doesn't know much at all about business or people.
The result was that quality products that had been run at a profit for years fell under constant pressure to reduce costs and "grow" revenue. It was akin to inheriting a fine piece of farmland that had fed the family for generations, reducing the flow of water to the crops and demanding that the earth yield more corn.
At Primedia Business, the land turned barren. There were endless rounds of layoffs. Products were bought, run into the ground and then closed. Good magazines and good workers were hurt. A lot of talented people got pushed out the door. A lot of others fled.
Nonetheless, there is still value at Primedia Business. The company still has some good journalists. There are even a few talented executives who survived.
I promise you this: whoever buys the company will be pleased with it. There's nowhere to go but up. And I assure you that the place is crawling with people who want a chance to work for someone other than KKR.

1 comment:

  1. Paul - I'm interested in sending you an email but am unable to for some reason. If possible, could you email me at matthew.chesler@db.com? Thanks much. Regards, matt

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