Do-over? About 15 years ago, using money supplied from the deep pockets of KKR, Charles McCurdy rolled up lots of enthusiast magazine publishers and niche B2B media companies into the sizable and significant, Primedia. Then along came a $700 million acquisition of About.com and, well, a stock that once traded at $32 per share fell to 76¢. According to the website, ContentBiz, McCurdy, who’s no longer at Primedia, announced a couple of weeks ago that he’s secured a $175-$200 million investment promise from Spectrum Equity Investors and has created a company called Apprise Media, and he’s going shopping for niche media companies.
“…he’s mostly interested in ad-based publishers for the consumer world, and content-sales publishers in b-to-b (“ideally one of each.”) He’s not picky about which topical niche you serve, but don’t bother contacting him if your revenues are under $25-30 million or if you’re mainly Internet-based, at least for now.
First McCurdy’s seeking one cornerstone traditional media publisher with a leadership role in its niche as a “platform to start.” Then he’ll acquire more titles to compliment it.
“I’m very interested in extending traditional businesses to emerging areas. The next three-to-five years are very critical for media companies succeeding or failing. Those that do a better job of adapting technology to traditional media situations will reach a period of exceptional growth in market share, revenue, and profitability. The others won’t go chapter 11, but they’ll be far less successful.”
Translation: “Primedia would still be great if we didn’t hire all those broadcast and Internet gurus who ran it into the ground. Give me a mulligan and I’ll show you what I mean.”
(Disclosure: I, too, have made spectacularly bad business decisions for which I would gladly accept a mulligan. One would hope and assume that the lessons learned from Primedia’s dive off a cliff would serve Mr. McCurdy well in this new venture.)