BZ Media, the Melville, New York-based entrepreneurial B2B publisher, has sold its flagship print brand, Software Development Times, and is in the process of selling off other assets—essentially winding down the company’s existence and divesting it brand by brand.
The company, co-founded by current CEO Ted Bahr in 1999, sold its two-year-old drone-industry tradeshow to Emerald Expositions in March, but it will manage the 2017 event in September.
In an excerpt from a companywide memo written by Bahr that was posted on the company’s website, he wrote, “It’s been a terrific 17 years and we survived the Tech Downtown of 2001 and the Great Recession of 2008.”
“It was—and will be for a while longer—a good place to work. It’s been a great ride and while it will be ending, you will all be well-equipped for your next great adventure,” Bahr added.
Perhaps it’s only the end of one B2B media company, an individual decision by an individual owner looking to convert equity to wealth. Or perhaps it’s an indication that the old days of B2B media are over — a once-relatively straightforward business transformed beyond recognition by new technologies and different approaches. What’s certain, though, is that Bahr and his co-founder, Alan Zeichick (who left the company in 2013), were among the higher-profile examples of entrepreneurial B2B practitioners — learning their craft at big companies and striking out successfully on their own.
In conversations I had with Bahr even in very recent years, he remained a proponent of print media and SD Times, calling himself the “Last Samauri.”
“We have successfully produced a print publication — our flagship, SD Times — many years after all of our competitors have folded,” Bahr said in the memo, which in several parts sounded like a valedictory. “The company has hired and nurtured nearly 100 people over the years, providing jobs and new skills while generating more than $30 million in incomes. BZ Media paid nearly $2 million in healthcare premiums and more than $2.5 million in payroll and social security taxes — all of this came from nothing.”
Software Development Times and related digital properties were sold to D2 Emerge, a new company formed by two BZ Media veterans. The principals are David Lyman, former vice president of sales for BZ Media, who is now the CEO of D2 Emerge, and Dave Rubinstein, former editorial director of BZ Media, who takes over as executive vice president.
“I am thrilled that SD Times has been bought by the team most responsible for making the publication what it is,” Bahr says. “ This is a win-win for everyone involved as most of the staff is able to go with the publication and digital assets and focus on and grow them.”
Divesting a traditional media brand is a hit-or-miss proposition these days. It’s telling that BZ Media is being divested in parts, and that the acquirers are senior managers from the flagship BZ Media brand. But Bahr is nevertheless bullish. “For years I had been told by my peers in the industry that my print magazine, SD Times, would be valued at zero by potential buyers,” he says in a press release issued by the deal broker, Corporate Solutions LLC’s Nick Curci. “Boy, were they wrong. We conducted an auction with 36 interested parties and four strong bids. We accepted the highest bid.”
“We are excited to be taking over the strong SD Times title and brand, and look forward to maintaining the magazine’s leading position in the software development sector while growing our subscriber base and expanding our print and digital footprint,” says Lyman, who will also retain his position as publisher of the magazine.
“As we’ve been publishing SD Times for such a long time, we understand the market and the needs of our readers and advertisers,” says Rubinstein, who will serve as COO and editor-in-chief of SD Times. “Our mission remains to provide articles that give our readers the information they need to keep up with the fast-changing development landscape, and to give our advertisers multiple platforms to put their messages out to our readers.”