With that working capital, Ziff Davis Media is hopeful that it may operate without a crushing debt load for the first time since its acquisition in 2000. That acquisition was hampered from the beginning by the decline in technology print advertising, which became precipitous in 2001, and by Ziff Davis Media's peculiar Internet situation, which left a large portion of its Web properties in the control of CNET Networks. The arrangement left Ziff Davis Media hamstrung in creating an Internet strategy in that critical time frame.
Young is optimistic about Ziff Davis Media's Web position as the company looks ahead. “As a result of our employees' hard work, we ended 2007 on a strong note,” he said in a previous statement. “We matched audience growth with impressive digital revenue expansion. And while the print market continued to be challenging, we continue to be print category leaders in the markets we serve.”
PC Magazine saw its ad pages dip 13.2% in the first quarter compared with the year-earlier period.
Growth, observers say, must come from Ziff Davis Media integrating its print, online and event properties.
“First, as they emerge from bankruptcy, certainly their balance sheet is much stronger,” said Roland DeSilva, managing partner of media investment bank DeSilva & Phillips. “With a strong balance sheet, they are able then to take advantage of the audience they have their hands around. ... Now serving that audience electronically is the only possibility for them to be a strong, viable content provider. That's pretty much the story for every b-to-b publisher.” M