Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

Update on TechInsights and EE Times

Posted on | November 23, 2008 | No Comments

TechInsights laid off 16 people last week as part of its latest cost-cutting measures. As reported earlier, longtime editors Richard Wallace and Loring Wirbel were among those affected. But on the business side too there were people just as important but not as well known as Wallace and Wirbel. Steve Corrick (sales), James Lonsdale-Hands (events), Courtney Lake (events) to name just three.
When you get down to the size that the traditional business is at TechInsights, you’re losing senior people. For some, getting laid off is difficult no doubt, but it can also be a relief. This decade has been brutal on the B:B publishing industry and everyone associated with it.
TechInsights CEO Paul Miller had to pull the trigger. There’s always a lot of grumbling when cuts hit, especially when it seems to happen every nine months. Miller doesn’t do it because he gets a kick out of it. He’s gotta be the loneliest guy in the world right now. Then again I just saw him this morning at the coffee shop, and he said he’s doing OK. In fact, he’s got a few things up his sleeve, he suggested.
Tough business
The stuff we all love is under fire in B:B. Look at PC Magazine; it cut its print edition. EE Times probably is not far behind, although no one’s saying anything about killing the print version. Sam Whitmore was in our offices Friday and we chatted briefly. While he’s an old ink-stained wretch as well, he has a fair amount of optimism about how B:B is trying to evolve. Some publications, he notes, have reworked their entire taxonomy to emphasize products rather than news; they haven’t killed news, but in some sectors, products are king. Then again, Lou Covey weighs on a key part of the problem in the space: It’s not that advertising doesn’t work, it just sucks.
Profitable still
For TechInsights, two really savvy acquisitions are paying off big time right now: Semiconductor Insights and Dave Carey’s Portelligent. These companies are in the marketing intelligence business, teardowns and reverse engineering and the like. In a litigious electronics world, their business is gold for customers.
Miller notes that TechInsights is profitable.
“We are anticipating a tough environment in 2009, and these moves are a rapid response to that possibility. There is certainly a focus on our core brands EET, TOL, ESC and an increased focus in the online area,” he wrote me last week. (He and I are scheduled to have a pop Wednesday so there’ll be some more insight coming).
The semiconductor industry since its inception has been brilliant at eating its young, reinventing itself as it drives wondrous innovation. Its loyal, watchful and insightful B:B trade press is becoming the latest victim.
What lies ahead?
As the economy melts down around us and drags B:B under the surface with it, we may forget, amid the chaos in our own lives, just how vital that press was to a functioning technology sector. Venture capitalists relied on it as an accepted b.s. filter, and their startups flashed coverage clips to validate their ideas to potential customers.
Vendor-as-publisher is viable approach to publishing, but it’s doubtful that content will carry the same gravitas as something from an EE Times, an EDN or a PC Magazine.

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No Responses to “Update on TechInsights and EE Times”

  1. Jackie
    November 25th, 2008 @ 7:17 am

    Hi Brian, you probably know that among those laid off were EE Times’ two copy editors; thus, the pub will now approach the immediacy of online publishing in one important way: virtually raw copy, from the writer’s desk straight to you, with no pesky nitpickers getting in the way to vet the content and style! As a former EET copy editor, I never thought I’d see the day! — Jackie

  2. Greeley's Ghost
    November 25th, 2008 @ 10:41 am

    I didn’t know that. Hmmmm…. when i started out as an ink-stained wretch it was with the struggling UPI. It was in its death throes. One of the things we did to be more efficient was to direct-post to the wire in many cases. Same thing as you’ve outlined here. It can be an iffy proposition. But it can also make more disciplined writers. It all depends on the personality.

  3. tmoran
    December 2nd, 2008 @ 10:30 am

    It’s just another brick falling out of the wall. While i share Jackie’s dismay, does anyone really care? I mean really? We all come from a time when there would be free-for-alls over the use of the serial comma and that and which. There was time–and reason–for this kind of thing, because we, and those we worked for, expected the best from us. We all tried to be the best. Now the best of for dopes; get it done and get it out and move on to the next meeting about how and where to cut costs and more people. It’s the same all over. Like PT boat crews in WWII: we are expendable. We don’t bring in $–we only COST $$. So off we go–and the best with us.

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