Of the CEOs at the traditional big three technology media companies-CMP Media, International Data Group and Ziff Davis-CMP’s Gary Marshall has the longest current tenure in the top job. He took over on Jan. 1, 2000, and in his more than five years on the job, he has seen a great deal.
Marshall has weathered an unprecedented series of events: the epic collapse of tech print advertising, the bursting of the dot-com bubble and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. His first response to the hits that CMP and other tech media businesses absorbed in this period was to cut costs. But, he said, he has done more than slash head count at the company.
"We run our business far more efficiently, but we’ve done far more than cost-cutting," Marshall said. "We’ve re-engineered the business."
One thing he has understood is that companies such as CMP have a new and broader competitive set than in the past.
In the days before the Internet, IDG and Ziff Davis provided the lion’s share of the competition. Now, new companies such as CNET Networks and TechTarget offer consumers new content and marketers new opportunities. "We still compete against Ziff Davis," Marshall said, "but it’s a small sliver."
To meet the new challenges, Marshall and CMP have accelerated the company’s already robust Web presence. The company has launched what it calls "pipeline" sites—such as the Database Pipeline or Compliance Pipeline—that delve deep into a specific tech category. It has also centralized Web development in a single platform, which has streamlined the creation of new Web sites.
"We can cost-efficiently get a Web site up and running far quicker than we could three or four years ago," Marshall said.
CMP’s TechWeb site in June launched "The News Show," a daily web-based video news program aimed at tech professionals. Additionally, the company recently introduced its Lead Nurture site, designed to generate leads for b-to-b tech marketers.
For the most part, CMP has grown organically. With the exception of the 2003 deal to buy the Oncology Group and Cliggott Publishing from SCP Communications, it has pursued very few large acquisitions-even though its parent, United Business Media, has a strong balance sheet. "We won’t overpay for acquisitions," Marshall said.
He emphasized that CMP is committed to the markets it currently serves. "The markets we’re in—technology, health care and also entertainment—we believe in," he said. "We believe in them through the best times and in the bad times."