BUYER: Insight Venture Partners
SELLER: Ziff Davis, Willis Stein
PRICE: $150 million (plus $10 million depending on performance)
DATE: June 2007
TAKEAWAY: Now that it has a new CEO, look for ZDE to become active on the acquisition front, particularly with new media companies.
When Ziff Davis owner Willis Stein & Partners announced in 2005 that the company was for sale, it held out the possibility that the company would be sold in parts, with the Ziff Enterprise Group, the Game Group and the Consumer/Small Business Group.
The Enterprise Group, which comprises eWeek, Baseline and CIO Insight, plus the associated Web sites, was the most attractive of the three groups, producing around $80 million in annual revenue and generating a corporate contribution in the $20 million range. ZDE sold to Insight Venture Partners in June 2007 for $150 million, plus another $10 million depending on performance.
Ziff effectively pulled the two remaining divisions off the market. In August, Jason Young, president of the Consumer/Small Business group was named CEO, replacing Robert Callahan, who remained as chairman of the company. "While the sale process has been a very sharp focus over the last 12 months, now that becomes less of a focus," says Young. "The clearer focus is now on operating the business ourselves."
In January 2008, Ziff Davis Enterprise named former CMP CEO Steve Weitzner as CEO. Weitzner quickly went about reorganizing the company, restructuring upper management and naming three newly-created positions. The moves organize the company around brand awareness, demand generation and deep customer engagement-including white papers, e-seminars and virtual trade shows, live events, roundtables and summits. The move also created the position of Chief Audience Officer, which Weitzner claims is the first of its kind in the industry.
ZDE has also made its own run of acquisitions in recent months, including DevShed, a network for software developers.
COMMENTS: "It’s unbelievable that CMP let their CEO walk directly to their major competition. If he didn’t have a non-compete, he also didn’t have a non-solicit. Who’s to say he’s not prevented from soliciting the best talent from CMP?"