Monday, July 21, 2008

Something in the air

I'm on the road this week and next. And as I sit in hotel rooms and read my feeds at the beginning and end of each day, I get the feeling that by the time I get back home, I won't even recognize the media industry -- particularly B2B.
Consider some of what is happening:
1. John French, Penton's CEO, has stepped down. And although the search for his replacement has barely begun, I'm already hearing some interesting theories about what the Wall Street whizzes that control the company are looking for in the new boss. It now seems likely that
Penton will soon be run by someone from a large, B2C online-only venture, i.e., AOL, Yahoo, etc.
2. McGraw-Hill is likely to be one of the bidders for Reed Business Information, according to U.K. newspaper The Telegraph. Given that RBI is the largest B2B publisher in the United States, such a purchase would catapult McGraw-Hill to the top of the B2B media universe. Of course it's always a distinct possibility that McGraw-Hill only wants RBI's construction division, but is willing to buy the entire company in order to get the financing that RBI is offering. In that case, much of RBI could be back on the market shortly after a McGraw-Hill purchase. (For more on this, check out coverage in Paidcontent and Business Media Blog.)
3. Cygnus has taken to suing ex-workers who abandoned the troubled company to start a competing publication. I don't have any inside information on the case. And I'm not a lawyer. But regardless of the legal implications, the case is likely to contribute to the toxic atmosphere that is Cygnus. And I couldn't help but laughing to see that news of the lawsuit broke exactly one month after Standard & Poor's lowered its outlook on Cygnus' bonds.

All this comes in the wake of the Guardian's purchase of PaidContent, Bloomberg's decision to restructure its news operations, the near collapse of America's publicly traded B2C newspaper companies and the loss of thousands of jobs among the ink-stained masses.

Something is happening. And I suspect that years from now we'll look back on the summer of 2008 as the time when the entire media profession entered a new era.
Are you ready?

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