Both News Corp.'s Dow Jones & Co. and Penton Media announced new CEOs in recent weeks. Dow Jones named former Bloomberg executive Lex Fenwick as its new chief, while Penton hired David Kieselstein, former CEO of TNS North America.
Additionally, Summit Business Media appeared poised to name Steve Weitzner as its new CEO. Weitzner is the former chairman-CEO of Ziff Davis Enterprise, which was sold earlier this month to QuinStreet.
Several prominent business information organizations have been searching in recent months for new CEOs to lead them in an increasingly digital world. Among those still searching are ALM Media and New York Times Co.
Fenwick joins Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, after 25 years at Bloomberg, where he served most recently as CEO of Bloomberg Ventures. He succeeds Les Hinton, who left the company in July amid the News Corp. phone hacking scandal. Fenwick will be based in New York and report to Chase Carey, president-COO of News Corp.
“We have clearly established WSJ as the premium consumer newspaper, and we are thrilled that Lex will be driving our plans to grow all our Dow Jones franchises into true innovative market leaders for today's digital world,” Rupert Murdoch, News Corp. chairman-CEO, said in a statement.
“We believe our enterprise business has the potential to follow the brand's success in the consumer space, and be the premier product in providing the kind of hard-to-find, premium content that the financial customer demands. We are committed to making it happen, and we think Lex is the executive to get us there.”
Ken Doctor, affiliate analyst for Oustell Inc., said the hiring of Fenwick is another strategic move in the ongoing battle between Dow Jones, Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters for business news supremacy. In this struggle, Dow Jones is a leader in consumer business information with its Wall Street Journal Digital Network that includes AllThingsD, Barrons.com, Marketwatch.com and WSJ.com. With its revitalization of Bloomberg Businessweek, Bloomberg has made a big move to bolster its position in advertising-supported consumer business information.
Bloomberg, with its terminals business, is a dominant player in the subscription business information sector. By hiring Fenwick, with his Bloomberg background, Dow Jones is looking to strengthen the position of its Factiva business and other b2b offerings, such as Dow Jones Newswires, according to Doctor. “He may be being brought in to see where does Factiva fit into Dow Jones in the long term,” he said.
Penton, publisher of Registered Rep. and Supermarket News, announced the appointment of Kieselstein as its new CEO late last month. He succeeded Sharon Rowlands, who left Penton to join Altegrity as CEO on Nov. 1.
In addition to his stint at TNS North America, Kieselstein led Dun & Bradstreet's small-business division. Prior to that, he spent the majority of his career at Time Warner, where he was CEO of the company's parenting media group.
While at Time Warner, Kieselstein also served as president-CEO of the personal finance media group, where he helped create a partnership with CNN that led to the formation of CNNMoney. He also held a number of marketing management positions at Fortune.
Industry observers say the Kieselstein hire signals that Penton, which is owned by private equity funds MidOcean Partners and Wasserstein & Co., will continue down the same path followed by Rowlands, who was pushing the company to become more focused on digital products and marketing services.
“He's from outside the classic b2b media industry, which is good,” said Roland DeSilva, managing partner of DeSilva+Phillips. “He's going to continue with the strategy of making Penton a digital and information company.”
Kieselstein said Penton is poised for growth. “Everyone is oriented toward a growth perspective, which is exactly what I was looking for,” he said in an interview. “I'm not really interested in a caretaker opportunity. This is a chance to grow this business going forward. There is tons of opportunity ahead for Penton.
“Certainly, first is the digital area. There's certainly the new-market opportunity. Penton is a predominantly U.S.-based company, and I think there's absolutely opportunity to grow in international markets. Marketing services is an area that I want to help grow more significantly.”