When Light Reading was launched in 2000 I figured it would be a fun way to make a living for five years. Today, that "five year mission" is in its sixteenth year and we are celebrating the sale of the company to Informa -- an event that marks the single most important strategic step forward for Light Reading in its entire history.
Regular Light Readers will know that I sold Light Reading once already (in 2005) and then bought it back (in 2014). So this morning's deal is my second bite of the apple. Which begs the question: Why now? And the simple answer is that, after an exhaustive search, I was finally able to identify an acquirer capable of working with the Light Reading and Heavy Reading teams to propel us on the next stage of our next-gen comms mission.
I know this because I've spent much of this year engaged with Informa's executive team, during the course of which it became apparent to me that what Informa has done, as a defined strategy, is to go beyond the usual trade publishing gene pool to bring together the most talented individuals from all industries to catalyze its business.
So, Informa is led by Group Chief Executive Stephen A Carter, a former senior executive at Alcatel-Lucent, founding CEO of the UK communications regulator Ofcom, the UK Minister for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting (2008-2009) and author of the Digital Britain: Final Report.
Light Reading, and Heavy Reading, will report into Andrew Mullins, chief executive of the Informa Knowledge & Networking Division, a Unilever alumni as well as the former managing director at the London Evening Standard, The Independent and The Sunday Times.
And we will be partnering closely with Patrick Martell, chief executive of Informa's Business Intelligence market research and analysis division, who has a similar back story to my own: starting as an apprentice on the print floor at St Ives plc, and rising through the ranks to lead the turnaround of that company as its CEO. (My own career started as a van boy for BBC Enterprises' Radio Times publication and has arrived, well, here… beep beep!)
Clearly, these are not your run-of-the-mill publishing executives; and the other members of Informa's executive team I have met all are equally well qualified.
At this point in my own career I am eager for a seat at this table and the opportunities it affords Light Reading to grow.
It goes without saying -- though I will say it anyway -- that I am staying with Light Reading for the foreseeable future; why on earth would I leave now?! Informa's ability to execute stands in stark contrast to most other tech publishing outfits today. Indeed, what I discovered during the sales process for Light Reading is that most of the former leading publishers are now actually under the control of private equity (PE) companies, a little known fact (even by their own employees) that essentially means that at exactly the time that the communications industry needs high-quality, impartial analysis the most, the companies that are supposed to provide it are being throttled back into nothingness by people whose default posture is to act like a bunch of passive aggressive accountants.
Clearly, this information vacuum represents an opportunity and I believe Light Reading has a role to play in that future.
But this deal is also great news for both LR's users, partners and customers. As part of the far larger Informa entity we will enjoy access to a transformative and exhaustive slate of marketing and event resources and expertise, allowing us to rapidly expand our coverage into important verticals (IoT, enterprise cloud, security) and geos (Asia, Africa) as well as accelerating the growth of our existing market-leading events, including the Big Communications Event (BCE) and NFV & Carrier SDN: SDN Integration in the Virtualized Realm.
And as part of Informa, Light Reading will have the unprecedented scale, reach and resources that will enable us to fully address not only the expanding opportunities in the communications and networking industries but also meet the information needs of all the verticals that now depend on a global digital infrastructure for their future prosperity.
For 16 years we've been going where no B2B tech publication has gone before. With Informa's help we now start the next phase in our mission. And this time, we do it in the certainty that we are now, finally, at long last, in the hands of a company that is committed to helping us live long and prosper.
I want to take this opportunity to thank some of my colleagues and friends in the industry who went out of their way to help me get Light Reading back on track after I reacquired it in 2014. Your wise counsel and encouragement were generously given, and are the reasons this chapter of the story has come to a successful conclusion (and apologies if I miss anyone):
Kelly Ahuja, Basil Alwan, Nigel Ball, Dror Bin, Sigal Biran-Nagar, Mike Capuano, John Chambers, Axel Clauberg, Lynn Comp, Joe Cumello, Zeev Draer, Mark Dzuban, Darryl Edwards, Ulf Ewaldsson, Andrew Feldman, Jeff Finkelstein, Nico Fischbach, Kim Gibbons, Monique Hayward, Christine Heckart, Larry Loper, Sanjeev Mervana, Garry Messiana, Cyrille Morelle, Paul Obsitnik, Admiral Bill Owens, Prayson Pate, Derek Peterson, Hayim Porat, Doug Ranalli, Carl Russo, Steve Vogelsang, Doug Webster, Richard Williams and Kathy Egan Wummer.
— Stephen Saunders, Founder and CEO, Light Reading