Incisive Media Cut In Half, Keeps Search Engine Watch & Search Engine Strategies

As many readers here know, I left the Search Engine Watch site I created in 1996 and the Search Engine Strategies conference series I helped start in 1999 soon after Incisive Media purchased those properties in 2005 (I do my own rival Search Engine Land web site and SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series now — next show is SMX East in New York this Oct 5-7, check out the agenda!).

Incisive wasn’t done with the buying. In 2006, it managed to get enough investment to effectively buy itself back into being a private company, then digested American Lawyer Media. But it turns out that it apparently couldn’t handle all it ate. Last week, a deal was cut splitting Incisive Media into two. ALM went back to being ALM; Incisive Media seems to have kept what it had before that purchase, along with the SEW site and the SES series.

PaidContent has a nice rundown on the situation here plus an interview with Incisive chief Tim Weller who says despite having “overstretched its balance sheet” on going private and buying ALM, he still sees this period as the most optimistic in Incisive’s history.

For background on me and Incisive, see:

For more about the history of Search Engine Watch, see my Happy 10th Birthday, Search Engine Watch – A History Of The Site post from 2007.

Postscript: The Sunday Times has an interview with Weller where the blame apparently is down to his investment backers:

With an Aston Martin in the drive, a ski chalet in France and £11m in the bank, Tim Weller was enjoying life after striking a £275m deal with Apax, the private-equity giant, to take the listed company he founded private….

Apax persuaded Weller and management of the merits of its go-private deal using a presentation with a slide entitled “The Benefits of Debt”. Over the next six months under Apax, Incisive used cheap loans to buy four businesses and by August 2007 the group had doubled in size….

Weller is scathing about private equity. “The amount of debt was never discussed at board meetings,” he said.

It was all so much more positive when the go-private deal was announced back in 2006. From a Guardian article back then:

Mr Weller, who set up the business 12 years ago, said yesterday he was disappointed to have to take the company private, but an inability to raise cash in the public markets had prevented Incisive from taking part in the industry’s consolidation.

“We have made concerted efforts to try to consolidate the market and yet, even with our outperformance, our share price relative to our peer group has been discounted,” he said. “Apax [however] has made it clear that they want to invest in the business to get it to the next stage.”