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September 27, 2006

Incisive Media Sold to Apax

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Last week news started to break very slowly that Incisive Media had been acquired by Apax Partners for $375 million dollars. It seemed like potentially very important news, but yet, very few outlets covered it, why? Well, for one, because no one really knows what it means.

Barry Schwartz says as far as he knows, everyone will stay the same.

“As far as I know, things will remain the same – including Danny going on his own. From my understanding the same people are going to be working on a day to day basis at Incisive and SES and SEW – so again, I am not sure what this means – outside of a new company owning it.”

Given all that, it’s hard to say or predict what impact this will have on SEW, SES or search-minded folk, if any at all. Typically, when a company goes private, as is the case here, there’s very little change in its day-to-day activities. The top level people get a little more money and the hope is that the company will be able to better grow better now that it’s out of the public realm. And until we know more than that, or how this may affect other areas, there’s not much to report on.

What the acquisition does do, however, is give signs as to what Incisive Media was thinking when (presumably) they didn’t fight to keep Danny.

SES Social Coordinator and Pubcon Director Joe Morin was among the first to give any insight into Incisive’s potential mindset:

“Now with Incisive Media itself having been on the auction block with a subsequent sale to Apax Partners, its beginning to make more sense and their overall rationale in not retaining Danny’s services. Why negotiate to disperse additional equity percentages when you are on the verge of cashing out?”

You have to wonder what effect that had on their negotiations with Danny and if Danny’s departure had any affect on the Incisive/ Apax deal. Is SEW and SES worth as much without Danny Sullivan? Arguably not, but does Apax realize that? Or maybe Apax does realize Danny’s power and is now in the position to give him an incentive to stay? Right now it’s nothing but speculation.

Under the terms of the deal Incisive will make more than $20 million, go private and become part of Apax. More than 30 percent of Incisive’s commission, however, will go to starting Apax Summer, a private company that will continue the work of Incisive and act as its financial backbone (or at least that’s how I understand it). When it comes to hard details, that’s really all anyone knows.

Danny penned his comments over at Daggle.





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