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'Media Business' honors Top Innovators

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Media Business recognized outstanding executives in the b-to-b publishing world Tuesday at its Top Innovators awards luncheon in Manhattan. "Our annual Media Business Innovators Awards were created to honor those who have impacted our business in truly innovative ways over the past year," said Bob Felsenthal, VP-publisher of Media Business and BtoB.

"In a rapidly changing environment, through some of the most challenging times in our industry's history, these executives have been both creative and successful in creating new products and services to build their audiences and generate revenue."

Recognized as outstanding CEOs were David Levin of United Business Media in the large trade category and Andy Weber of Farm Journal Media in the small trade category. Both delivered keynote addresses to an audience of 200.

"One way to think about innovation is, it's about competition and near-death experiences," Levin said in his address. "Survivors in this room have found their way through to a rather exciting place, one pregnant with opportunities."

In 2005 when Levin joined the company, two-thirds of UBM's revenue came from print products; today, it's only 5%. Levin spearheaded the purchase of Canon Communications, primarily a trade show company, and decentralized UBM's organizational structure.

Amid all this change, Levin said, "The good news is, our customers still need to be informed, to meet and have their messages heard. What's exciting is the arrival of new technology with the oldest one on earth, face-to-face meetings."

Weber detailed how Farm Journal Media—"a juggernaut in a small space," as he put it—came back from the brink of bankruptcy to current profitability, with more than 100 income streams in the agriculture market.

"For those of you who have weathered the tumult over the past several years, I'm sure words like "panic stricken' and "caged animal' come to mind," he said. "But over the past two years we've achieved a nearly 50% growth rate. And 80% of that has come from products we've invented since 2008."

Weber is particularly proud of the company's work to support the agricultural industry itself. Its Farm Journal Legacy Project marshals resources to help farmers with estate and succession planning, while its Agricultural Foundation is involved, among other things, with efforts to raise money to alleviate world hunger. Since January, the program's Farmers Feeding the World project has raised $6 million, Weber said.

"We're helping our brand, the industry and the world," he said. "I can't think of a better way to go to sleep at night."

Publishing executives honored Tuesday were: Hugh Wiley, publisher, Bloomberg Businessweek, in the general business division; Paul Miller, CEO, UBM Electronics and UBM Canon (large trade); and Danielle Hartley, senior VP-publisher, MedTech Media (small trade).

Online executive winners were: Lewis DVorkin, chief product officer, Forbes Media (general business); Peter Longo, CEO, IDG TechNetwork (large trade); and Tom Cintorino, exec VP-digital media, Northstar Travel Media (small trade).

Honored in the production executive division was Ulla McGee, VP-mobile products, IDG's PCWorld and MacWorld. Denise Robbins, VP and group director-circulation, NewBay Media, was recognized in the audience development executive category. Chet Burchett, president, Reed Exhibitions-the Americas, was honored in the events executive category.

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