Peter Goldstone has returned to Hanley Wood, this time as CEO.
Goldstone, former president of the home construction industry media company, had departed two years ago when its then-private equity owners were slashing costs. He succeeds Frank Anton, who has taken on the role of chairman.
Goldstone had been president of Government Executive Media Group, the b-to-b unit of Atlantic Media Co., since 2011. (Tim Hartman, who was group publisher of Government Executive Media Group, was named Goldstone's successor.)
Oaktree Capital Management and other investors acquired Hanley Wood in January in a deal that slashed the media company's debt to $80 million from $410 million. With the deal, Oaktree also invested $35 million in Hanley Wood, which now apparently has more room to hire and to invest in new products—and perhaps acquisitions—industry observers said.
“I had an incredible experience at Hanley Wood, and, yes, I am excited to be returning to a place that was my professional home for a decade,” Goldstone said in an interview. “I do feel a sense of unfinished business, and I am thankful to be rejoining such a powerhouse of a company. There are massive opportunities to serve the construction markets in new and innovative ways, leveraging all things digital. This will redefine the company going forward.”
Goldstone added: “It was a honor and privilege to work at Government Executive and the Atlantic Media Co. The company celebrates and supports "digital first' innovators.”
“Peter's perspective's been freshened by his experience at Atlantic Media, a company farther down the road when it comes to digital media,” Anton said. “On the other hand, his experience with Hanley Wood will allow him to hit the ground running here. In addition, with the company now back in the M&A game and with a new, aggressive three-year strategic growth plan in place, we need more executive horsepower to handle the increased workload. He's the right guy at the right time at the right place.”
Reed Phillips, managing partner at DeSilva & Phillips, said: “When Peter left, I think Frank was not very happy; but it was a call that the investors made to reduce costs. It just reunites what was a really good team.”
Hanley Wood still serves an industry that is struggling. The company's flagship publication, Builder, saw its revenue decline to $10.5 million last year, a drop of 9% compared with 2010, according to IMS: The Auditor.
Goldstone sees reasons for optimism, even though he acknowledged, “We are not out of the woods.” He added: “Home builder sentiment is striding up 14% year over year. Permits are up to 710,000, which is a vast improvement. Inventory is down 20%; existing sales are up; and, hopefully, prices are bottoming [out].”
With the Goldstone hire, Hanley Wood joins ALM, Penton Media and Summit Business Media as the fourth prominent b-to-b media company to name a new CEO this year. Industry observers view the trend as a sign that b-to-b media companies see an opportunity for growth.
“There's definitely a common theme here that people are looking for new leadership teams to devise successful business models for b-to-b media,” said John Wickersham, partner at Atwood Advisors. “You can see that there's not just one flavor. [These companies] are picking people who have a data background, people who have a technology background. With Frank and Peter, they're betting on a seasoned team.”