Boston, July 30 – Robert L. Krakoff retired from his position as Chairman of Advanstar Communications July 31 but he maintains a strong connection to the firm. Krakoff is one of the largest investors in Advanstar, which is one of the largest BtoB media companies in the nation.
Krakoff had been instrumental in growing Advanstar since he joined the company in 1996 as Chairman & CEO. One of his biggest successes at Advanstar came in April 1998 with the acquisition of MAGIC International, the world’s premier apparel marketplace headed by President Joe Loggia. The acquisition of the semi-annual exposition, which occupied a million net sq. ft. at the time, expanded the size of Advanstar by 50% overnight. Another major success followed shortly afterwards. On August 15, 2000, Credit Suisse First Boston bought Advanstar for $900 million. On a personal level, Krakoff was a demanding boss but he was credited with the hiring and teaching, and the pushing and prodding of many a show manager. He launched the careers of more show managers than any other individual in the trade show industry, and many of his proteges (nicknamed “ex-Cahns” from their roots at Cahners Exposition Group) have gone on to create their own successful show management firms or show management divisions of media companies.
Joe Loggia was named President and CEO of Advanstar in January 2004, and Krakoff retained the position of Chairman, focusing on acquisitions. All totaled, Advanstar completed 35 acquisitions and joint ventures since May 1996. Today, the company organizes 58 trade shows and 36 conferences; publishes 76 magazines and 21 directories; and offers numerous web sites and other print and electronic reference products.
Early Beginnings: A Pioneer in Creating Integrated Marketing Media
Krakoff’s media career began in the mid ‘70s when he joined Cahners Publishing Company (now Reed Business Information) in the travel department. Shortly afterwards, he was charged with creating an exposition division for the publishing giant. He built the division in the early years through the acquisition of The Charles Snitow Organization in New York, The Show Company International in Los Angeles and The Sherman Organization in Boston. While President of Cahners Exposition Group, the company continued to grow through acquisition, but also began launching new shows and cloning existing events throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. These ranged from consumer events (home, garden, sportsmen and auto shows) to heavy equipment shows (woodworking, printing, packaging, manufacturing, etc.). The company diversified into shows in the telecommunications, electronics, medical, food and other industries. By 1996, Reed Exhibitions owned over 300 exhibitions worldwide.
In January 1993, he rose to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Reed Publishing USA, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc., which included Cahners Publishing Company and Reed Exhibition Companies. He also became Vice Chairman of Reed Elsevier Inc. and a director of Reed Elsevier plc.
What’s Behind Door Number Three?
After building two of the nation’s largest media firms, what’s next for the 69-year-old media mogul? Krakoff told Trade Show Executive magazine that he’s retiring from Advanstar, not the industry. “In time, I’ll be able to announce my plans. I can’t do anything that’s directly competitive with Advanstar but there are other areas in trade shows and B2B, ” he says. Krakoff will continue to serve on the Board of Directors of Freedom Communications, a privately-owned media company with 65 newspapers including its flagship newspaper the Orange County Register; five CBS and three ABC network affiliates; and several internet-based businesses. He is a past Chairman of ABM – the American Business Media and remains on its Board of Directors. He will moderate a session at the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO) Executive Conference next month.
Krakoff gave credit for much of Advanstar’s success to “a strong group of talented individuals.” In a farewell letter to Advanstar employees, Krakoff wrote, “Advanstar has developed into a wonderful, strong and successful company. I am sure with the continued support of Credit Suisse First Boston, Advanstar’s private equity sponsor, it will maintain and improve its position as a market-leading BtoB trade show and magazine company.”
Advanstar Releases Six-Month Results
Krakoff’s departure comes on the heels of the Advanstar’s announcement of solid financial results.Yesterday in a conference call, Joe Loggia, President & CEO, and Dave Montgomery, CFO, released Advanstar’s operating results for the six months ending June 30, 2004. They reported revenue in the first half of 2004 increased 28% to $204.6 million from the same period in 2003. EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) climbed 14.6% to $55 million.