Print-to-online exodus continues

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Add one more name to the parade of print publishing executives lured away to the lucrative Internet world.

Brian Kardon, senior VP-marketing at Cahners Business Information, will leave the company July 30 to join an Internet startup, which he declined to identify.

"I'm leaving to pursue Internet opportunities," said Mr. Kardon, 41. "I feel that the opportunities are greater outside of Reed Elsevier," Cahners' corporate parent.

Mr. Kardon oversaw the migration of Cahners' print publications to the Internet. In 1996, he helped spearhead the company's Manufacturing Marketplace Web site, which combines electronic commerce with content from 26 Cahners publications.

Still, Mr. Kardon leaves a Cahners that is struggling. In June, Reed Elsevier warned investors that 1999 revenues were expected to be lower than 1998; the decline was blamed on weak ad revenue at Cahners.


Mr. Kardon said he is dismayed by what he characterized as the reluctance of Reed Elsevier to transfer the value of Cahners' readership of 6.5 million to the Internet. He said he grew increasingly frustrated as Cahners stood on the sidelines while rivals such as Miller Freeman and Primedia announced plans to raise capital with initial public offerings of their Internet businesses.

"They don't have the culture of venture capital or Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley," Mr. Kardon said of Reed Elsevier, which has been without a CEO for about a year.

Mr. Kardon can tick off a list of former publishing executives who have become millionaires in Web ventures, including George Bell, who left Times Mirror Magazines for Excite and Jeffrey Cunningham, who left Forbes for CMGI's PlanetDirect.

"It's about the risk-return ratio," Mr. Kardon said. "If you work for a large company, you're paid well, but there's a limited upside. The way the small startups work, you take a fairly large pay cut, but you're rewarded with [stock] options."

"We're very sorry to lose him," said Margaret Pantridge, Cahners director of corporate communications. "It's a big loss to Cahners."

Because of the restructuring, which Cahners insiders say is unrelated to Mr. Kardon's departure, his position will be eliminated.

Mr. Callahan is a reporter for Business Marketing.

Copyright July 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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