Questex gets 'Fierce'

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Company aims to pump up its digital presence by acquiring FierceMarkets With its recent acquisition of b-to-b online media company FierceMarkets, Questex Media Group now has the opportunity to apply an e-mail newsletter model to its wealth of vertical properties. Questex, which has more than 100 print and digital media publications and 45 events, covers several industries, including beauty, hospitality, technology and travel. Among its properties are: American Salon, Computerworld Hong Kong, Hotel & Motel Management and Travel Agent. FierceMarkets (, which debuted in 2001, targets b-to-b executives through its portfolio of e-mail newsletters, Web sites, webinars and live events. It currently produces 19 online publications focusing on the telecommunications, life sciences, health care, IT and finance industries. E-mail products include FierceBiotech, FierceCIO and FierceHealthcare. It has a total of 560,000 e-mail subscribers. FierceMarkets will operate as a subsidiary of Questex. Jeff Giesea, founder and president of FierceMarkets, and his staff will continue to manage it from its headquarters in Washington, D.C. “There's a good balance of some crossover properties, but there are lots of industries in which we don't have a presence,” Giesea said. FierceMarkets' business model—the distribution of distilled information via e-mail to controlled-circulation audiences—has resonated with b-to-b advertisers. Its Web audience has more than doubled in each of the last two years, and it has had more than 40% compound annual revenue growth in the last five years. Kerry Gumas, president-CEO of Questex Media, said the company will initially extend FierceMarkets' telecom products into Asian markets “where we have a strong telecom base but not a strong suite of digital products.” Several b-to-b media companies were attracted to FierceMarkets, according to Richard Mead, a managing director at media investment bank Jordan, Edmiston Group, which represented FierceMarkets in the transaction. Financial terms of the deal, which was completed in January, were not disclosed. Mead said the price was “a healthy multiple,” but he declined to be more specific. Gumas said the acquisition plays into larger trends in the delivery of business information. “Advertisers prefer lead generation and measurable media, and are planning to increase investment in all forms of digital media,” he said. Questex, which Gumas formed in 2005 with the buyout of various assets of Advanstar Communications, has made a string of acquisitions in the last year. These include Oxford Publishing, which produces The Show, the largest beverage event in the western hemisphere, and Five Star Alliance, an online luxury hotel booking service. “Kerry is steadily shedding the image of "Son of Advanstar' and seems determined to do it,” said Chuck Richard, VP-lead analyst of media research company Outsell. “He's adopting the kind of transactional, subscription and other user-paid business models that b-to-b publishers need to add to the mix.” M
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