The joint venture with Burrill & Co. was championed by Bob Krakoff, president-CEO of Nielsen Business Media, who was instrumental in building up Advanstar Communications' Life Sciences division when he was chairman-CEO of the media company from 1996 to 2004.
"It's one of the markets [Nielsen Business Media] hadn't had any presence in, and it makes sense when you look at Bob's background with Advanstar, where he invested in life sciences and health care," said Tom Kemp, managing director of private equity firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson and former chairman-CEO of Penton Media. "Life sciences make up a large sector with strong underlying growth characteristics."
The Life Sciences Media Group of Burrill & Co. hosts a series of executive-level conferences, including the Stem Cell Meeting, the Personalized Medicine Meeting and the Biotech Meeting.
Next month, the unit will launch The Journal of Life Sciences (20,000 circ.), a bimonthly magazine of analysis and opinion.
"The beauty of this market is there is no end," said Zachary Dicker, VP-group publisher of Burrill Life Sciences Media Group. "When you buy a grocery title, that's the end of it. But the whole life sciences arena is so big that you don't know where it's going. It encompasses everything from stem cell research to genetically modified foods."
Dicker said the new business unit will be adding editorial, sales and event staffers over the next few weeks and will also start to look for acquisitions. "We're in a buy mode and are looking for opportunities to buy trade shows and newsletters," he said.
Although Burrill & Co. has built up a solid reputation in the life sciences market, Nielsen Business Media brings some much-needed capital to effectively grow the business. "The place was run pretty tight," Dicker said. "We've got to loosen it up and make it grow."
Kemp said the move is an indication of more fundamental changes at Nielsen Co. (formerly VNU).
"From a broader perspective, there's an increasing focus on portfolio management," Kemp said. "They're focusing on markets with long-term growth and selling out of markets [in which] they don't have a strong enough competitive position."