Ascent by Acquisition
Ascend Media’s success is almost inconceivable when you find out that the company is just four years old. In 2006, the company’s total revenue was approximately $120 million, compared with
$25 million in 2003, the year it made its first acquisition. Ascend Media now produces 50 business-to-business magazines and journals, 70+ e-newsletters (a number that continues to grow with advertiser demand) and hosts 10 trade shows and conferences. The fact that the company now has 480 employees in seven locations, including corporate headquarters in Overland Park, Kan., is most impressive to the company founders.
Cameron Bishop, president and CEO, and Ron Wall, executive vice president of sales and marketing, formed the publishing company in partnership with CCMP Capital (formerly J.P. Morgan Partners) and Veronis Suhler Stevenson.
“Our business is about the talent you employ. ... We demand editors to be content drivers on multiple platforms,” Bishop says, “and require salespeople to successfully sell multiplatform sales packages. It’s about the people.”
Wall agrees that despite the company’s large list of accomplishments its most important asset is the quality of its employees.
“You could put a spin on a bunch of [other assets that make the company successful] … how important it is to keep growing the overall revenue or how the number of e-newsletters represents positive growth toward developing a strong media mix. But, honestly, it’s the 480 members of our team,” Wall says. “I think it says something ... that nearly 50 people from our past professional lives have joined us at Ascend Media ....”
The Making of a Powerhouse Publisher
Wall and Bishop have more than 62 years of combined experience in publishing.
“Ron and I came out of the same college program and took slightly different paths when we both joined what was then called Intertec Publishing in Overland Park, Kan., back in the late ’70s,” Bishop says.