CEOs share IDG background

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Miami University of Ohio was known as the "cradle of coaches," because Paul Brown, Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler and Ara Parseghian all coached at the small college before moving on to success in the NFL or major college football.

In the same vein, International Data Group might be known as the "cradle of CEOs," because executives who learned their craft at IDG are running three of the most important b-to-b media companies, including IDG itself:

  • Former IDG COO Jim Casella is CEO of Reed Elsevier's Reed Business Information U.S.
  • Former IDG CEO Kelly Conlin is CEO of Primedia, which operates Primedia Business Magazines & Media.
  • Current IDG CEO Patrick Kenealy rose up through the ranks at IDG, running PC World and IDG Ventures before taking the top job.

"It's an interesting alumni association," Casella said.

Industry observers believe that the rise of these three IDG-trained executives is no coincidence. IDG founder and Chairman Patrick McGovern has created a company with a flat management structure and imbued it with a decentralized, entrepreneurial culture.

"Obviously IDG is a very successful company and a very entrepreneurial company," said Robert Crosland, managing director of media investment bank AdMedia Partners. "They foster creative thinking and independent-minded executives. It's a breeding ground for talent. They give people room and let them succeed or fail. When you hire someone from IDG who's been running a business unit, you know they've been running it."

At Reed Business, one way that Casella has put his IDG experience into action is in the increasing brand extensions the company is employing overseas. In agreements with IDG, Reed Business has expanded the presence of a brand such as Variety in China. "IDG, given Pat's global vision, did provide a unique experience," Casella said.

At Primedia, Conlin quickly put in place the flat management structure favored at IDG when he eliminated management positions held by David Ferm, who oversaw Primedia's consumer publishing division, and Martin Maleska, who oversaw Primedia's b-to-b unit.

Kenealy said that poaching IDG employees is nothing new, pointing out that former Ziff Davis top executives such as Eric Hippeau and Mike Perles both had IDG backgrounds. He said headhunters still bombard his executives with phone calls and job opportunities."We see that as a compliment," he said. -Sean Callahan

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