Feb 17, 2022 - Economy

IDG Communications rebrands amid martech acquisition spree

Illustration of arrow cursor cutting a computer

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

IDG Communications, the nearly 60-year-old publisher that's home to brands like PCWorld, Macworld and TechHive, is rebranding as Foundry, its president Kumaran Ramanathan exclusively told Axios.

Why it matters: The rebrand comes as the company prioritizes its growing marketing technology business over its traditional publishing roots.

  • "Perceptions can start to change through our rebrand that we're not just a B2B media company. There's nothing wrong with that, and we're absolutely sticking with media. We see it as the heart and soul of our business, but it's not the only thing we do," Ramanathan said.
  • In addition to its publishing business, Foundry makes money selling professional services such as lead generation tools, event planning, custom webcasts and influencer outreach.
  • Foundry is one of two subsidiaries of IDG, Inc., which Blackstone bought for $1.3 billion last November. The second is IDC (International Data Corporation), a data-driven research and intelligence business. IDC is not changing its name.

Details:

  • The name Foundry was chosen for its association with creation, and the literal connections to the tech and media industries since semiconductors and typefaces are made in foundries, chief strategy officer Jason Tenenbown told Axios.
  • Tenenbown said the company's success lies in its ability to connect its own first-party data with martech.
  • "We're not living in the third-party cookie data ecosystem," he said. "We're dealing with our own audiences, and the data that we harvest from those audiences."
  • In the past 18 months, Foundry has acquired four data and technology firms, including Triblio, a martech platform, KickFire, a data intelligence company, LeadSift, a marketing intelligence firm, and most recently, Selling Simplified, a lead generation company.
  • "We're very clear now about the direction. The way to get there quicker is to then find the right acquisitions," Ramanathan said. "With the Blackstone name above the door, everybody wants to talk to you."

By the numbers: Ramanathan said Foundry's biggest source of revenue is its data and software unit, which includes demand generation and platforms.

  • Ramanathan declined to disclose Foundry's annual revenue but described the company as "very profitable."
  • Foundry's SaaS and platform business grew 51% from 2020 to 2021.
  • About 10% of Foundry's 2021 revenue came from traditional display ads on its websites.
  • About 55% of its 2021 revenue was from outside the U.S.

Catch up quick: IDG, Inc. was founded by Patrick McGovern, who owned and operated the company from its inception in 1964 until his death in 2014.

  • Oriental Rainbow, a subsidiary of Chinese investment firm China Oceanwide Holdings Group, bought IDG, Inc. in 2017.
  • Last year, Blackstone acquired it from Oriental Rainbow.

What's next: It's unclear whether Blackstone will take IDG, Inc. public or look for another exit. Ramanathan said it's "early days" as they are still getting to know the newly appointed board.

  • "We're three years ahead of where we said we'd be within one year, and [Blackstone is] backing us with investment for growth," Ramanathan said.

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