The last two weeks saw a flurry of executive-level movement at leading B2B publishers, as the business reorients itself in the wake of recent sales and closures. The new executives face serious challenges: B2B publishers enter 2010 still trapped in one of the most challenging advertising markets in living memory.
Jan. 12 brought news that Richard Beckman would be leaving his position as president of the Fairchild Fashion Group, which publishes B2B titles including Women's Wear Daily to become the CEO of e5 Global Media, the new owner of Adweek, Mediaweek, Brandweek, The Hollywood Reporter, and Billboard. E5 was formed by Pluribus Capital Management and Guggenheim Partners, which funded the acquisition of the media-focused trade titles from Nielsen Media.
Before Fairchild, Beckman was the boss of Conde Nast's Media Group, but was moved from this high-powered sales position to the less prestigious Fairchild post around the same time that Conde Nast began making deep cuts at its consumer magazine properties.
Beckman is being replaced at Fairchild by Gina Sanders, formerly the vice president and publisher of Lucky. Shortly after she took up her new responsibilities, Sanders gave the ax to three hires made by Beckman during his nine-month tenure at Fairchild: senior vice-president and chief revenue officer Lisa Ryan Howard, associate publisher Elizabeth Lunny, and associate publisher Erica Bartman.
Separately, Ralph Erardy, the former senior vice president and group publisher of Women's Wear Daily, is founding his own media company with plans to launch a new trade magazine in the next few weeks. Called Insider Communications Group, the new company is preparing to launch Specialty Insider, covering specialty apparel retail, with a controlled circ of 15,000.
The following week brought the departure of Nielsen Business Media Greg Farrar, who is leaving the company after it divested a number of titles (including those mentioned above), shrinking the company to a fraction of its former size. Without its core publications, Nielsen Business Media is primarily in the trade show business, a fact emphasized by the formation of a new unit, Nielsen Expositions -- as well as the decision not to name a replacement for Farrar.
Finally, a leading industry organization for B2B publishers, American Business Media, saw a major departure with the resignation of president and CEO Gordon T. Hughes II, who is leaving the organization to return to the entertainment industry where he got his start.
Hughes is credited with transforming ABM from a traditional print publishing industry organization into a global organization of information providers serving the interests of B2B media by coordinating print, digital, data and events. He also created various awards and fellowships, as well as the Business Information Network ad-tracking system for business media print publications and online advertising.