CMP Media’s Steve Weitzner on a Frothy Tech Market and Bringing Back Comdex
In the technology sector, there is a direct correlation between online activity and successful live events, CMP Media CEO Steve Weitzner said in a speech earlier this week at the American Business Media Spring Meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Online activity creates a cohesiveness in a community, as well as a dialogue and debate around specific topics, Weitzner said, that "is really driving a revival in live events in the tech space." At the recently concluded Interop Show in Las Vegas, for example, CMP got an 80 percent re-sign rate from sponsors. "That’s unheard of in the tech space," he said.
Speaking at The Jordan, Edmiston Group’s Annual CEO Dinner, Weitzner, in a well-received presentation, touched on a variety of topics and offered an array of insight into how CMP views the world. About 80 people attended the dinner.
Print advertising continues to decline by 5 percent in the technology space, Weitzner said, but for the first time, the losses in print are being offset by revenue increases online. [Interestingly, IDG CEO Pat McGovern made an identical observation two days later in a speech to all attendees.]
Weitzner has made a strong impression since taking over as CMP’s CEO in September. During that time, he has quietly guided the company into a more multimedia posture. CMP has made six acquisitions in a year that have strengthened its position in events and e-media.
Among other observations by Weitzner:
The tech market feels frothy. "It feels a little like 1997-1999. I hope the market doesn’t start to run away from itself. I hope sanity reigns."
In all of its recent acquisitions, the company has retained the key people from the acquired company, a difficult task for strong entrepreneurial companies like Light Reading and events companies like MediaLive International’s Technology Media Group, which included Interop and the now defunct Comdex brand.
CMP’s British owners aren’t fully tuned in to how vehemently opposed the U.S. tech industry is to reviving Comdex, which CMP acquired in January as part of the MediaLive deal. "We think there might be a way to revive it," Weitzner said. "It started out as Computer Dealer Exchange in the channels area. We have channels magazines. We think that might be a way to bring it back." Bottom line? "Don’t look for it in the short term."
Print remains a good branding vehicle, but the industry is witnessing "the end of print where CMP has been: As a weekly news vehicle. You have to do something different now," Weitzner said. "Analysis, or opinion, and you’d better have a reason for being in print."
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