By some measures, it’s a time of growth and innovation in B2B media -- a point that’s partially under the radar, not always reflected in popular media, and nowhere near as spectacular and dominant as the growth of the giant FAANG companies (Facebook, now Meta; Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google, now Alphabet).
I did an interview recently with a prominent B2B executive where we discussed what drives value in media companies, especially when it comes to data analytics capability. We discussed KPIs that matter most in assessing M&A prospects.
He made an interesting point: Most companies don’t inherently have those data skillsets. You have to get them from outside sources -- either by hiring individual staff and building capability, or by buying them through acquisitions.
In the executive's case, he added, “We could have built a lot of it, but it would have taken a lot of time. And we had a target-rich environment where we could buy.”
So they bought.
Which leads me to three B2B media companies that have dominated the build-or-buy conversation -- and arguably all of B2B media -- for the last few years.
First is Endeavor Business Media, which hasmade seven acquisitions this year alone, and at least six in the two years before that, since forming in 2017. Nashville-based Endeavor is backed by investment firms Resolute Capital Partners and Invergarry Holdings.
Then there’s Washington, D.C.-based GovExec, which covers the government sector and has made 12 acquisitions since March 2020, when the PE firm Growth Catalyst Partners acquired a controlling interest in the company. Most of the acquisitions have come in the last 13 months.
Representing the build side is Industry Dive, another Washington, D.C.-based company that operates 27 brands across more than 20 vertical sectors, the most recent being a launch last week of a brand for the in-house counsel profession called Legal Dive. Virtually all of those brands were launched in the 10 years since the company debuted. In 2019, the private-equity firm Falfurrias Capital Partners acquired a majority equity state in Industry Dive, and since then, it has made five acquisitions, notably the 2020 acquisition of the software company NewsCred’s content-marketing studio.
So that’s three companies that have been in the news the last few years, two that mostly buy and one that mostly launches. But all three are growing rapidly, all three private-equity backed -- and all three in the process of redefining B2B media.