B-to-b publishing veteran Robert Krakoff dies

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B-to-b publishing veteran Robert Krakoff died late last month at the age of 72, seven months after taking charge of what is now Nielsen Business Media.

Krakoff joined then-VNU Business Media in August from his post as chairman-CEO of Blantyre Partners, a strategic management and investment company working in association with private equity company Blackstone Group in the area of b-to-b media. He played a key role in the $11 billion acquisition of parent company VNU last summer by six private equity companies, including Blackstone.

After taking the helm, Krakoff made several strategic moves, including selling the VNU Business Media Europe portfolio as well as individual publications Architecture, Architectural Lighting and Sporting Goods Business. He also oversaw the launch of Hospitality Design—Asia Pacific & Middle East.

In November, Krakoff restructured VNU Business Publications, VNU Expositions and VNU eMedia and Information Marketing into six distinct operating groups: marketing; film; music; retail; residential and commercial building design; and marketing services and travel.

"You don't look at magazines or trade shows but markets and how you can grow those markets either organically or through acquisition," Krakoff told BtoB's Media Business last September.

A fixture in business publishing for decades, Krakoff ran Advanstar Communications from 1996 to 2004. Prior to that, he worked for Reed Elsevier for 23 years, rising to the post of vice chairman. He was chairman of American Business Media in 2003-04.

"He was a giant in our business and bigger than life," said Gordon Hughes II, president-CEO of ABM, who called Krakoff a "very dear friend." "His contributions were not just for the companies he ran, but he was a leader for the industry."

Hughes said Krakoff was instrumental in developing the CEBA (Creative Excellence in Business Advertising) Awards and ABM's Business Information Network (BIN), which tracks ad spending in business media.

Longtime b-to-b publishing executive Jim Casella, CEO of Case Interactive Media, and a former vice chairman of Reed Elsevier, said Krakoff provided long-term vision for the industry.

"He established the trade show business for Cahners/Reed Business and understood the high impact of a tightly integrated platform for marketers that included events, print and online," Casella said.

Krakoff's death was reported in a memo distributed to Nielsen Co. employees by Chairman-CEO David Calhoun. The memo said he died unexpectedly in his apartment in Boston, although it did not specify the cause of death. In a news release, ABM said that Krakoff died of an apparent heart attack.

"Since joining our organization late last year, Bob has made a strong impact on our organization, both personally and professionally," the Nielsen memo said. "Bob was a consummate professional, a valued adviser and a wonderful friend."

A company spokeswoman would not comment on a successor for Krakoff. Nielsen Business Media COO Greg Farrar is expected to run the company on an interim basis.

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