Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Kenealy Returns to IDG Ventures; What's in Store for the Next CEO?

paidContent.org reports on IDG CEO Patrick Kenealy's stepping down to start a new fund for IDG's Venture Capital arm. Patrick steered a course for IDG that has brought its prestigious I.T.-oriented titles steadily more into line with online delivery, though taking some pains to make the content somewhat scarce in search engine results outside of online distribution partners such as Yahoo. This opened up doors for search engine-friendly suppliers such as TechTarget to fine-tune topical content channels for highly effective lead generation. The challenge that IDG faces in Kenealy's wake is not unusual: most generally-focused business and consumer titles are having a hard time keeping up with content users who know how to aggregate content effectively themselves through search engines, filtered alerts and weblog feeds. Given the I.T.-friendly crowd that is IDG's focus, the problem becomes that much more accentuated.

IDG has great content and is no slouch in deploying features that will keep readers in their camp, but the opportunity for IDG at this juncture is to think far more aggressively about the role of search engines, user-oriented feeds and user redistribution. This means thinking more clearly about each article as a robustly featured and strongly branded digital object whose value can travel through user-defined channels and gain value through its travels. As with many publishers the "safe haven" offered by syndication partners such as Yahoo is likely in the end to limit the revenue growth potential of IDG that can be gained by dealing with users as much more powerful partners in the content distribution game. Our best wishes to Patrick in his new role: hopefully he will spread the seeds of vContent on fertile ground.
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