Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A Day of Acquisitions

Well, today is a busy one in both PR and PR measurement. Intelliseek has been acquired by BuzzMetrics which is now part of VNU (okay, so if I get this right, BuzzMetrics acquired Intelliseek and then was acquired by VNU ... I think) and will be known as Nielsen BuzzMetrics. Yep, that's a mouthful. The full press release is here, and everyone's favorite blog measurement Website, Blogpulse, will still be around as will everyone's new dad of twins, Pete Blackshaw. Crappy timing, though, since VNU announced that they were up for sale to be split up.

Okay, so the quick analysis of this: no brainer that the measurement industry is going to contract and we were going to see either companies go through M&A or just die. It's the same with the Web 2.0 companies, and while I use BlogPulse, I have not used BuzzMetrics nor know much about them beyond the emails I get from Max Kalehoff and his columns in MediaPost. But, while word of mouth marketing is hot right now - and the WOMMA conference should be fun - let's boil it down to what it really means: Nielsen wanted the capability to track this crap so they bought a company to do it - well, actually two companies.

Another interesting piece of news is that BusinessWire is being bought by Warren Buffett. From O'Dwyer's ...
Berkshire Hathaway, the $75 billion conglomerate run by Warren Buffett, has moved to acquire Business Wire in a deal expected to close in the first quarter of '06.

BW's management team, led by newly promoted CEO Cathy Tamraz, will remain in place and operations will not be affected by the ownership change, according to BH. BW will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of the conglomerate.

Business Wire sent a letter to BH last year pitching the potential acquisition.

Buffett had high praise for the 44-year-old newswire. "In making this acquisition of Business Wire, we have followed our blueprint of buying profitable companies that are industry leaders, yet have significant growth potential," he said in a statement. Buffett cited the company's experienced management team and called it a "gem of a company." He added: "I expect BW to continue to do what it has always done and I'll be there if I can help it in any way."

BW, which is privately held, said it posted double-digit growth in 2005. It has grown significantly overseas in the last few years.

Last month, founder and CEO Lorry Lokey promoted Tamraz, a 26-year-veteran of the company, to the top executive post and said he would focus on his philanthropic pursuits, which have totaled $160M to date.

Lokey said BH is "committed to providing a supportive environment" that will allow the newswire to continue overseas expansion and pursue "emerging opportunities."

BH companies include Benjamin Moore & Co., Fruit of the Loom, Buffalo (N.Y.) News, and GEICO Auto Insurance, among a roster of 42 companies.
This is interesting, and I have been working on a larger piece about the Wire services and whether or not they are needed nowadays (hey, how about those layoffs at PR Newswire). But, hey, congratulations to Lorry as he is a nice guy and philanthropic. I will have more to say about this later in the week, after I meet the CEO of Primezone. But, the telling part here is that BW actively pitched BH to be acquired. There's got to be a story there, but I will leave that to the reporters.
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