UBM is preparing to announce that it's shutting down two iconic print brands in its Tech division, with major layoffs, two sources have told Expo sister publication, Folio:. InformationWeek and CRN will close their print editions, according to the sources, and more than 100—perhaps as many as 300—employees will be let go.
UBM spokesman Peter Bancroft says that “I’m not confirming or denying any information you've received,” and UBM Tech CEO Paul Miller called the details “wildly inaccurate,” while acknowledging a strategic shift.
This move, if it occurs, would follow a round of VP-level layoffs earlier this year at UBM Tech.
The move also would be part of a broad, ongoing strategic effort by UBM to focus on the events space, a shift that has been chronicled in the company's financial statements and earlier this month in the Financial Times.
UBM is following in a pattern of other large b-to-b media companies, including Reed, which divested most of Reed Business Information in 2010, and Nielsen, which made a similar move a year earlier.
The industry sources described in significant detail what UBM is doing. Among the moves, the sources said, are:
• Shutdown of InformationWeek and CRN. Both magazines were mainstays of the technology-media sector for decades, generating tens of millions in revenue while they were part of the old CMP Media.
• The elimination of as many as 100 editorial positions, representing, the sources said, as much as 50 percent of the editorial team at UBM Tech.
• Elimination of central-services staff based in Manhasset, New York, and outsourcing of some jobs to India.
• Consolidation of the remaining UBM Tech staff, so that all team members work on all three brand clusters—IT, channel sales and electronics.
• An announcement date of April 10 was said to be planned.
In making this move, if it occurs, UBM would be closing print brands and scaling back online businesses to emphasize higher-margin events. Indeed, UBM has made no secret of the fact that events have taken much higher priority. Events now account for more than 50 percent of UBM Tech's revenue and the company has been reorganizing talent and resources away from print to focus on live events. UBM event revenue was $664 million in 2012, up 11.7 percent from 2011, while marketing services revenue—including online and print—was $249 million in 2012, down 19 percent from the prior year. The events produce margins north of 30 percent, while marketing-services margins are 4.2 percent.
The EE Times brand is said to have escaped the cutbacks, and that brand's management will run the newly consolidated group.
While the company’s financial statements and other reports note that UBM has shuttered or sold 44 print magazines since the start of 2012, Bancroft declined to acknowledge any characterization of the company as “stumbling.” “You can’t describe a B2B media company growing at 6 percent organically in the teeth of a global recession as stumbling,” he said. “UBM continues to evolve and develop from a position of strength, not weakness.”