In case you missed it, Incisive Media — which owns Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Strategies — is going private. Now folks are speculating in terms of what that means with me. First some background, then a very short update that really mainly to say, I’m still talking with them.
Search Engine Watch reported the sale happening in our search headlines post on September 22, and those headlines ran again in our SearchDay newsletter on September 25. There have actually been a number of articles. Here’s a short rundown:
- UK’s Incisive Media To Be Bought By Apax For $375 million; Some Shareholders Unhappy, PaidContent.org
- Incisive Media agrees takeover, Reuters
- Four share £18m as Apax buys Incisive, Times Online
- Incisive Media investors hope Apax bid will trigger auction, The Guardian
- Incisive Media agrees 195p/share cash offer from Apax Summer, management, AFX
- Incisive poised to acquire £20m MSM, Daily Telegraph
Yesterday, Joe Morin (who I assume saw the story in the SearchDay headlines) posted some speculation on why the sale meant Incisive may not have wanted to negotiate harder to keep me. That led to discussion over at SEOmoz, Threadwatch and WebmasterWorld.
There was some concern raised at WebmasterWorld about why Search Engine Watch hadn’t reported the sale. My comment was this:
The news was there for anyone who reads our blog or takes SearchDay. I assume Joe’s one of those, guessing he saw the headline in SearchDay on the 25th and so did his own post on the 26th. He links over to the Reuters article that was cited in the PaidContent.org story that was in our headlines.
I selected PaidContent’s coverage of the sale for our headlines because I thought they did the best job of summarizing what’s going on, highlighting this from the AFX article above:
Apax Summer is a bid vehicle by Apax for the deal, and IM CEO Tim Weller, COO office James Hanbury and finance director Jamie Campbell-Harris will take an 11.9 percent stake in Apax Summer. Other Incisive Media employees will also have the opportunity to invest in Apax Summer.
In other words, you’ve got Apax buying Incisive. In turn, the main officers at Incisive are getting a big payday, but they’re also plowing a 1/3 of that payoff back into a new Apax Summer company that will do what Incisive was already doing. In addition, they’re set to keep on working for the new company in the way they already work for Incisive, to my understanding.
In short, Incisive is being taken private, with the stated reason being that Incisive/Apax Summer can better grow as a private company. From the Reuters article above:
“The independent directors believe that the cash offer fairly reflects the achievements and prospects of Incisive Media and that Apax is well positioned to support the business and its employees in its next phase of development,” Chairman Mike Masters said in a statement.
And from the Guardian article:
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.”
Overall, the move really should make no difference in terms of what Incisive/Apax Summer wants to do with SES or SEW. Technically, those are being sold as part of the entire company to a new company. Realistically, it’s simply Incisive going private, a fairly minor change in terms of the search world. Putting it into our headlines seemed appropriate.
In terms of me, plenty are speculating that the move to go private explains why Incisive wouldn’t have wanted to give me a stake in the company itself. That’s not something I asked for, but neither did the impending sale prompt my departure. I didn’t know the sale was happening at all.
I leave the speculation to others primarily because I’m still talking with Incisive, as I said I was doing earlier this month. Those talks are more positive than when I initially posted about leaving Search Engine Watch, but that’s all I can say at the moment. I promise to keep everyone informed as soon as I have any concrete details to report.
Postscript: Incisive tells me it continues under the name Incisive. Apax Summer will be the private equity backer for Incisive, allowing it to purchase back public shares and take Incisive private.