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Penton CEO focusing on fewer, bigger bets in 2013

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David Kieselstein, who became CEO of Penton Media on Jan. 30, spoke to Media Business as he began planning for his first full calendar year as the top executive of one of the country's largest b-to-b media companies. From 2008 to 2012, Kieselstein was CEO of TNS North America, a custom research division of WPP, and he ran Dun & Bradstreet's Small Business Credit Division from 2006 to 2008. Joining Penton marked a return to his media roots; his experience includes stints at Time Warner as president of the Parenting Group (2002-05) and the Personal Finance Group (1999-2002). Media Business: What are your goals for 2013? David Kieselstein: First of all, we expect we'll be able to grow the top line and bottom line in 2013, just as we will in 2012. We will do that by investing in strategic acquisitions and scaled organic growth. By that I mean that our internal growth initiatives will focus on those projects and products that have the potential to scale most significantly. We will place fewer bets but on larger-scale opportunities. We will also focus on leveraging best practices throughout the company. From a line-of-business standpoint, I believe the digital, data, marketing services and events businesses will continue to show growth, and we have a ton of ideas on how to further innovate in these areas. MB: How is your marketing services business doing and what's next? Kieselstein: Our marketing services business is meeting its goals, which is good. We have a very broad offering, so this was a year to test and learn. Heading into 2013, we're going to be more focused, making hard decisions on where we will focus more and where we will focus less. MB: How do you see user-paid data as a growth area for Penton? Kieselstein: We have a goal of increasing the percentage of user-paid revenues within the company. We're doing a lot of work on developing the next generation of data and data services. We are also excited about our ability to provide a higher degree of functionality and usability through mobile platforms. We're in the process of developing a few proprietary user-paid mobile apps that we will launch in key markets over the next few months. We feel there's a lot of opportunity across our lines of business to drive increased value from mobile technology. MB: What are some other priorities? Kieselstein: I see our talent base as a key investment. We recently hired someone to build out a robust internal recruiting function and we're increasing our commitment to and investment against training.
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