Neal Vitale has been out of the magazine industry for nearly eight years, but earlier this month suddenly found himself as CEO of a $75 million b-to-b publishing company. With two acquisitions in the space of a week, the veteran of Cahners Publishing Co. and Petersen Publishing became chief of 1105 Media, a brand-new company based in Chatsworth, California.
1105 acquired 101communications, a $53-million company focused on IT markets, and Stevens Publishing, a $20 million company based in Dallas that is focused on health and safety markets. Vitale was part of the group of executives that acquired Petersen in 1996 for $440 million. He served as CEO until he left in a management shakeup in 1998. Petersen was sold in 1999 to Emap for $1.5 billion. So as a key player in one of the most successful private-equity transactions ever and as a one-time head of Variety, Vitale has the resume and experience to be a big-company CEO. But a lot has changed since 1998. We asked him about his plans.
Q: So you made two acquisitions in a week. What’s next and how fast will you move?
A: Well, it won’t be two deals a week. It’s time to focus on integrating these for a while.
Q: You’re now a $75 million company. How big do you want to be?
A: We have no revenue target. We are looking to grow but we don’t have a specific number in mind.
Q: What’s first on your agenda?
A: My first agenda point is to meet everyone and talk through the vision of the company. We want to say what our plans are and where we go from here.
Q: What’s the response been?
A: So far so good.
Q: What is the vision?
A: We are an integrated media and b-to-b information company and we are looking to grow in all existing markets as well as add new ones. I stress the integrated approach. You have to meet a market’s needs in all ways.
Q: What markets will you focus on? Stevens and 101 do not appear to be synergistic.
A: A number of the Stevens markets are related to the public sector, so there is a nominal fit on that level. We’re just looking for products that are good fits;good assets. That is the way we are thinking about it.
Q: You’ve brought in several new executives at 1105 Media. Any other managerial changes coming?
A: The 1105 Media senior management team that is in place will remain intact for the moment. And we’re not changing any of the operating management. That is staying intact. The plan is to leave good people in place.
Q: It’s a different world from 1998.
A: I’m glad to have missed a few of these years. It was not a bad time to have been on the sideline a little bit. The rise of e-products and e-media is probably the single biggest change.
Q: What does 1105 Media mean?
A: It is an inside tribute to my daughter. Her name is Marissa Claire Vitale, and translated to Roman numerals it is 1105.