After ten years, I’m leaving Search Engine Watch and almost certainly leaving the Search Engine Strategies conference series as well. My contracts with their owners Incisive Media are expiring, and we’ve not been able to agree on new ones.
I’ll explain more about the situation below. However, let me stress that the purpose of this post isn’t to cast blame. It’s simply to explain directly from me to those who care about why I’m leaving the site and conference series with which I’ve been associated with for so long.
Back in 1997, I sold Search Engine Watch to what became Jupitermedia. That company later started the Search Engine Strategies conference series. I had a long and prosperous association with both of those properties (USA Today recently recounted the tale here). I renegotiated my contract to provide services for both of them to Jupitermedia several times without any major issues.
Last year, Jupitermedia sold the site and the series to Incisive Media. I wasn’t unhappy with the sale and chose to let my contract be extended through the end of 2006 as part of it.
I was concerned about moving forward with Incisive, however. I’m far from the only reason behind the success of SEW and SES, but I’ve played a major role. I helped build both of those assets. Then I watched one company sell them to another without me having any formal capital stake in the sale. That left me wary of history repeating itself. I wasn’t going to help this new company grow the business out of the sheer kindness of my heart.
I explained these reservations at the very beginning of my relationship with Incisive, that I needed some long-term incentive for helping them continue to grow and strengthen the site and conferences. After over a year of talks, that’s failed to materialize. As a result, I’m departing.
I love both the site and the conference series. I hate to say goodbye to them. They’ve also been good to me. I’ve done very well financially and enjoyed plenty of personal satisfaction through them. I’ve written things that people have told me have helped them immensely. At our conferences, it’s great to hear from so many people that they’ve learned a lot or far more than they were expecting.
In terms of Search Engine Watch, I’ll be serving as editor-in-chief through November 30, 2006. As of December 1, I’m gone, except for an extremely slim chance I might do some columns for them going forward. It’s so slim that no one should be expecting that it will happen.
As for SES, I’ll still be chairing the SES Multimedia & Mobile Edition show this October in Los Angeles, then the SES Chicago show in December. After that, I’d say there’s another extremely slim chance that I might do SES events on a case-by-case basis (again so slim that I’m not expecting it will happen). At the moment, I’m not contracted for any thing beyond those named (I’m currently listed as chairing the SES NY 2007 event, and I’ve asked that I be removed from the site).
Aside from SEW and SES, it’s far more likely I’ll be doing writing and conferences elsewhere. This might be for other companies, depending on what happens in the next few weeks. I’ve also entertained the notion of simply expanding my own consulting company and going it on my own with a new site and/or conferences. We’ll see. Somewhere in there, I might even finally do that book I’ve been threatening to do.
Overall, I’m sorry to leave many of the people at Incisive, especially those I’ve worked with for such a long-time on the conference side that came from Jupitermedia. I’ll be extremely sorry to say so long to my ClickZ and Search Engine Watch friends and colleagues: Elisabeth Osmeloski my managing editor, the correspondents that have come onto the SEW Blog, the hard-working volunteer moderators in our SEW Forums, the many speakers I’ve worked with for SES events and most of all Chris Sherman, my partner in search crime for the past five years.
Whatever I do, I’ve tried to make it a hallmark to always to be inclusive of content, people, web sites or organizations that will help my readers, even if I might technically be competing with them. Whatever I end up doing, you can expect I’ll still be pointing at Search Engine Watch as appropriate and wish those that remain a part of it the very best.
To keep up on my future plans, keep checking back here to my personal blog.
Comments, questions, concerns? I’ll be happy to address them as best I can below. Just be aware that at this time, I have no idea who will take over from me at Search Engine Watch or for the SES events that I usually do.
Postscript: I’ve also added some further thoughts in The Day After & Many Thanks!