CEO Sean Griffey: ‘The Sky’s the Limit’; Industry Dive to Be Acquired by Informa for $525 Million

“The best days continue to be ahead of us, but today is a milestone for Industry Dive. I’m grateful for the team both past and present that built this amazing company and for our new partners at Informa who share our ambitious vision for the future.”

—Industry Dive CEO Sean Griffey on Twitter this morning, after it was announced that Informa had acquired the media company for an enterprise value of $525 million

At BIMS 2019—the last in-person BIMS we held before this fall’s event (to be announced in coming days!)—Griffey fireside chatted with Meg Hargreaves, now the company’s COO (pictured here), about the then seven-year-old company’s tremendous growth and its commitment to superior journalism.

One of those content reaffirmations “actually came from this conference a couple years ago,” he said. “I was struck that no one said the words ‘journalism’ and ‘content’ in a two-day period. Breakout panels talked about lead generation in buyer periods.” Every article needed to be infused with someone’s purchase intent, Griffey was told. So he just thought that believing “every story should tell something about people’s buying habits is a mistake. As an industry we can swing too far and become something we’re not. Eight years ago you couldn’t come to a conference and not talk about content journalism. I think we have to look at that.

“A lot of people in media try to run from the term ‘media,'” Griffey added. “They try to be something else… So we’re a media company, and were going to run to it.”

That run has culminated in a signed agreement, initially reported by Axios, for Industry Dive to be acquired by Informa for an enterprise value of $525 million. Both are members of our AM&P Network.

“It’s a great outcome for Industry Dive, which has grown its business to over $100 million in annual revenue over the past 10 years,” Axios wrote, putting Industry Dive at a cash value of $389 million. But that number that doesn’t include potential earn-outs based on revenue growth or equity that’s being rolled over into the new company.

In an email to my colleague Tony Silber today, Griffey wrote: “From a valuation standpoint, I think price reflects the value of the audiences we have built, the content we create, the data sets that we collect, and the scalability of the model. We are a large, scaled, and highly profitable media company that crosses numerous verticals.

“In terms of the deal timing, it was just the right time. The business has been accelerating and deserved a larger partner with more resources. We found that with Informa.”

Griffey sees multiple benefits in the new arrangement. “We are incredibly bullish on not just our standalone prospects but what we can do with Informa in particular. Informa has a vast number of untapped business audiences that we can use as the foundation for new or future Dive publications. We both are building significant first-party datasets and see the value of tying online and offline activity to truly understand audience behavior and needs. There are a number of products we can launch both online and offline with our combined resources. The sky’s the limit when it comes to possibilities.”

On Informa’s side, Group Chief Executive Stephen A. Carter said this (in Industry Dive’s release): “Like Informa, Industry Dive champions the specialist. Its high quality, targeted business insights have built an enviable following across a range of B2B markets which, when combined with our own portfolio of specialist B2B brands, will create more opportunities to grow B2B audiences, expand into new B2B markets and create value for customers.”

A winner of 10 Neal Awards earlier this year, Industry Dive now counts their audience close to 13 million, through 27 web-based publications and more than 70 daily and weekly email newsletters. Their employees number about 380, with 115 working in editorial roles. All will remain. Industry Dive will continue to operate as an independent brand with the same management team, within the Informa Tech division.

Look for more Dive publications to be launched from this acquisition, as well as new in-person events, an area Industry Dive had not previously ventured into.

Gary Nugent, CEO of Informa Tech, said, “Industry Dive is highly successful at building B2B audiences through world-class specialist content. We are very excited to bring its expertise, reach and colleagues onboard, as part of our expanding focus on B2B digital services and building known, engaged and marketable audience communities around our leading specialist brands.”

Informa actually acquires Industry Dive from Falfurrias Capital Partners, a Charlotte-based private equity firm that took a majority equity interest in the company in 2019. “Over the past three years, the Falfurrias team has helped realize Industry Dive’s potential for continuing to scale our business into new markets, products, and services,” Griffey said. “We have enjoyed tremendous success and growth with the Falfurrias team and thank them for setting us up for our next chapter with Informa.”

As for any take-home lessons, Griffey again emphasized value. “Our initial premise was always that there is incredible value in niche markets. This is just a validation of that idea. Overall, media can be fairly simple and is an execution game. If you create something valuable for a valuable target audience, you’ll have opportunities to monetize it.”

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