Kemp joined the company in 1996 as CEO and became chairman in 2001. He made a series of acquisitions, including Mecklermedia and its Internet World magazine and trade show. The acquisition strategy left the company with long-term debt of more than $300 million.
The combination of the debt and reduced revenue and cash flow-the result of a steep downturn in advertising spending in Penton's core technology and manufacturing markets-caused the company's share price to tumble from more than $30 per share in 2000 to less than $1 last year, when it was delisted by the New York Stock Exchange.
Kemp was lauded by industry observers for helping to financially re-engineer the company and keep it afloat, but those efforts were apparently not enough to keep him at the helm.
Near the close of trading on Tuesday, Penton's share price was 78 cents, down from 92 cents at Monday's close.