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

TechInsights’ latest reorganization

Posted on | October 18, 2009 | 14 Comments

TechInsights, the former CMP Electronics Group, reorganized again last week. The news went largely uncommented on, which, in one sense was not surprising: The company has reorganized in recent years with a frequency by which one could set a watch. However, this one is important because it should, within a very short time frame, show how viable the electronics trade press will remain.

A disclaimer: I now run communications and community for Numetrics, which is doing business with TechInsights.


Paul Miller, CEO, TechInsights

TechInsights announced last week that it is cleaving professional services from its media business, the twin pillars that formed TechInsights after it shed the CMP brand name.

  • Harry Page, the former Senior VP Professional Services, will become CEO of the professional services UBM TechInsights division.
  • Paul Miller, who was CEO of TechInsights, will become CEO of the media division, now named EE Times Group.
  • The changes take effect Jan. 1, 2010.

    Harry Page, Sr. VP., Professional Services
    Harry Page, Sr. VP., Professional Services

This announcement followed an early-September move in which TechInsights sold EE Times Europe to Andre Rousselot’s European Business Press SA. Rousselot had been running the business side of EET Europe alongside editor Richard Wallace, who spearheaded the drive to create a pan-European electronics publications until he was let go late last year in an earlier reorganization. Wallace now runs the site The Next Silicon Valley.

The Great Cleaving

This reorganization in many ways tosses the media business into the rapids. Miller, who orchestrated the old Electronics Group’s expansion into new businesses (acquiring for example the intellectual-property analysis firms Semiconductor Insights and Portelligent, among other things), is now the man with the paddle. SI and Portelligent in many ways brought home the bacon for TechInsights in the past year or so. (Companies want to work to protect their ip and investigate competitors’ ip in good times and bad, so those business are largely recession proof).

Not so, obviously, with the media business.

As the Rose Parade rolls through Pasadena on New Year’s Day, Miller will be facing the biggest challenge of his publishing career. He has been pilloried in some corners as the pages of EE Times have withered and its editors have moved on, but Miller never stood in front of the industry and said “Stop advertising with me; I don’t need your money.” No one else in the industry has evolved a media company as much in the worst of times. No one.

Follow the Money

He had to: The industry abandoned its publications with breathtaking suddenness. Companies have simply stopped advertising as a means of engaging engineers. They’ve taken that money and turned inward, using the promise of the Web and its cheap resources to build direct-engagement and vendor-as-publisher strategies. And today they’re waking up with more questions than answers.

The a la carte bingeing of recent years (“I’ll have two blogs, three Twitter feeds, a Facebook page and a LinkedIN group, now!”) has hit the digestive tract and the feeling is one of queasiness and confusion. They’ve realized that what publishers did over the span of generations–build a credible audience by giving them credible industry information and news–they haven’t been able to do on their own in two or three years and possibly won’t ever be able to replicate.

I and others building social legs to our marketing strategies (at Synopsys, at Mentor, at Cadence, at Magma, at Altera, at Denali, at Tensilica and dozens of other companies) are having a fun time in our own little echo chamber right now. We know the audience is not banging down our door, but we’re patient.

Burning Down the House

At the same time we know that the audience we want is still sitting in the circ rolls of EE Times Group and Reed and Penton and RTC Group and Extension Media and Hearst. We just can’t find budget for it. Meanwhile, we’re finding out that building content to lure that audience is hard work and the content is only part of the battle. Sometimes it seems like we’re trying to burn down a perfectly good house to build another one in its place.

Some time after New Year’s Day, this industry needs to pop a Bromo or two and get back to the business of sensible marketing–an integrated approach in which companies build smart, sensible channels to customers and prospects both directly and indirectly.

This bodes well for Miller and any other publisher who understand how the old works with the new.

Harry Page, the former Senior VP Professional Services, will become CEO of the professional services UBM TechInsights division.
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Comments

14 Responses to “TechInsights’ latest reorganization”

  1. kirodriguez (Karla Rodriguez)
    October 19th, 2009 @ 10:45 am

    Twitter Comment


    RT @bfuller9 My take on the latest TechInsights reorg, and its implication for B:B media and marketing: [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  2. bfuller9 (Brian Fuller)
    October 19th, 2009 @ 11:32 am

    Twitter Comment


    My take on the latest TechInsights reorg, and its implication for B:B media and marketing: [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  3. PowelsonInc (PowelsonInc)
    October 19th, 2009 @ 11:33 am

    Twitter Comment


    Makes u think: RT @bfuller9: My take on the latest TechInsights reorg, and its implication for B:B media and marketing: [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  4. tensilica (Paula Jones)
    October 19th, 2009 @ 11:34 am

    Twitter Comment


    RT bfuller9 My take on the latest TechInsights reorg, and its implication for B:B media and marketing: [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  5. S_Tomasello (Stephen Tomasello)
    October 19th, 2009 @ 3:13 pm

    Twitter Comment


    RT @plindemann: Implications of TechIsights’ (EETimes) reorg & evolution of the electronics trade press by @bfuller9: [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  6. plindemann (Paul Lindemann)
    October 19th, 2009 @ 3:14 pm

    Twitter Comment


    Implications of TechIsights’ (EETimes) reorg & evolution of the electronics trade press by @bfuller9: [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  7. Sean Murphy
    October 19th, 2009 @ 7:29 pm

    I am confused, this latest re-org looks like a complete undo of the last few years’ changes, only they are not re-hiring any of the journalists or editors they let go.

    You say:

    “Some time after New Year’s Day, this industry needs to pop a Bromo or two and get back to the business of sensible marketing–an integrated approach in which companies build smart, sensible channels to customers and prospects both directly and indirectly.”

    I don’t understand what’s going to change in 2010 that is going to reverse EET’s fortunes, especially when magazines like BusinessWeek and newspapers like the New York Times are experiencing the same loss in advertising even though circulation has held reasonably steady.

    The problem has not been that the established print media players lost readers–although they have–it’s that they have lost advertisers.

    I don’t understand what’s going to bring them back to spend money on print advertising in 2010, or after 2010.

  8. Brian
    October 19th, 2009 @ 9:16 pm

    Sean, I’m not quite sure myself. And I write that after reading your comment (thank you, btw) and just after opening my latest bill from the San Francisco Chronicle, which I support as a charitable contribution. The new annual subscription fee is more than $400, well north of what I pay for the Wall Street Journal. The quality of the Chronicle’s reportage has plummeted this decade. 400 bucks for lousy coverage is not a bargain.
    In the B:B space, however, I still hold out hope that some model will emerge for an independent publication or publications. As you noted, the audience has not left the building, but it very soon will.
    To me, a world in which the conversation is dominated by companies (with the resources to drive new media programs) is not beneficial even to the companies.
    The rest of the conversation will be highly intelligent and opinionated and dominated by engineers who (A) are consultants selling their services or (B) fulltime engineers with companies and therefore constrained by what they can write to one degree or another.
    The trade press has always served (ideally) as a b.s. filter run by people whose job (ideally) is to report events in an objective way to keep putting food on the table. Yes, this is idealized, but even companies loved it because they got validation for their marketing efforts.
    Today the corporate refrain is “I know my audience. I know where there are, and I can reach them directly and cost-effectively.”
    The point of the post is they may know where they are (for now), but they may not be reach them cost-effectively, especially since spam is a four-letter word.
    In the end, I’m just not convinced that either marketing departments or the vast majority of a given B:B audience is interested in chasing after the endless possibilities the Web provides. You and I and others may enjoy a streaming world of constant information during the day, book-ended by think-tank podcasts on my hour-long commute (well, me anyway), but most people want to know what they need to know when they need to know it so they can do their job.
    That tension is what I think may stem the deterioration of the trade press.
    Or not.

  9. Lou Covey
    October 19th, 2009 @ 9:48 pm

    We’re still at a point that the engineering community still believes that communication skills are a biological trait and anyone can do it. But that assurance is getting shaky as Brian indicates. Multiple companies have either built or are in the process of building a social media infrastructure… because their competitors are … and they don’t want to be left behind. At the same time, as the look at what they have built, they are at a complete loss regarding what to do with it. I run into multiple engineering managers who say “I have a blog/twitter account/facebook page but what is it for?” I’m actually creating a business teaching them how to use it. Somewhere in the middle–between teaching engineers how to write and reinvigorating traditional media — we will find the answer.

  10. Loring Wirbel
    October 20th, 2009 @ 8:07 am

    I was going to come down solidly on the side of Sean’s comments, under the belief that the audience has already left the building. But I might allow for a couple caveats. Lou’s comments on teaching models are important ones, that may provide a path to the future. Ultimately, Brian, the printed pubs still showing signs of life are scholarly journals, and it may be that the surviving model may look something like Harvard Business Review, and something like an IEEE tech pub. But it won’t look like EE Times, EDN, or Design News. When Jackie reposted your original post, I just responded with a yawn. Sorry.

  11. Gary Smith
    October 20th, 2009 @ 10:00 am

    I think EE Times will come back because the EDA Industry is heading into the realm of Low Touch marketing. But for that you need rock star editors so they better start hiring back some top talent.

    I’ll have a Industry Note on High Touch Vs. Low Touch up on my site soon.

  12. Mike Santarini
    October 20th, 2009 @ 3:28 pm

    I don’t know if they’ve commented as such but from a distance it looks like the parent co has now turned these properties into bite size chunks. Past experience tells me that when co’s do this it is most usually a prelude to a sell off, which could be a good thing. Maybe the Leeds will buy it back?

    BTW, You folks checked out Techbytes.com yet?

  13. Mike Santarini
    October 21st, 2009 @ 9:22 am

    Sorry folks, it’s actually techbites.com, not techbytes.com…it’s formed by a lot of ex-EET Designliners…

  14. hdduncan (Helen Duncan)
    October 21st, 2009 @ 2:31 pm

    Twitter Comment


    Looking at: “TechInsights’ latest reorganization” ([link to post])

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