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SNEWS®, the leading insider trade news source for the outdoor and fitness industries, has been acquired by Active Interest Media, the publisher of highly influential consumer magazines such as Backpacker, Yoga Journal and other healthy living publications.
The acquisition, which was sealed Dec. 21, creates a powerful communication hub that will reach both consumers and the trade, as well as all avenues of outdoor and fitness, wellness, yoga and nutrition. SNEWS’s fiercely independent reporting style and insider savvy will not change, nor will its role as an industry watchdog. Key senior editorial staff, including partners Michael Hodgson and Therese Iknoian, will continue to oversee the operations in their current roles and location. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“With this partnership, we are uniquely positioned to grow both the outdoor and fitness communities at many levels. That means more news, more project partnerships and more services for both our readers and our advertisers” said Hodgson, SNEWS® president. “No other publishing group can match the depth and breadth of our combined teams’ knowledge, or the reach and resources that this merger creates.”
Originally founded in 1984 as an outdoors-only newsletter, SNEWS® was acquired by Hodgson and Iknoian in January 2002. They quickly expanded onto the web in order to provide more timely news delivery for readers, and they were the first to combine both outdoor and fitness news under one banner. With the launch of the larger GearTrends® network of magazines and the GearTrends.com website (www.geartrends.com) in January 2003, SNEWS® (www.outsidebusinessjournal.com) continued to grow into other areas. Those included podcasts, business and retailer training features, legal news and special publications such as the eFitBiz fitness business journal and the OIA annual directory.
AIM (www.aimmedia.com) owns a family of brands with an emphasis on active interests and healthy living. The company was founded in 2003 by Efrem Zimbalist III and the private equity-investment firm Wind Point Partners. The company operates magazines, websites, and events in California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, and Virginia. All of AIM’s properties are leaders in their markets, and they all pursue a model of close connection with the core communities they serve and support.
The acquisition, which was pursued by both parties because of the opportunities envisioned, was hailed by SNEWS® editor-in-chief Therese Iknoian as a union that would benefit all sides. “This partnership will open doors of opportunity for customers and advertisers,” she said, “while also expanding the news and information available to subscribers and readers.”
Kent Ebersole, publisher of Backpacker, called the acquisition “a giant win for our advertisers.” The combined publishing group, he said, would “now be able to provide an even more diverse selection of services at all touchpoints to its clients, as well as more comprehensive marketing and promotional opportunities.” On the content side, Backpacker editor-in-chief Jonathan Dorn said he expects “substantial collaboration in audience research, gear testing, and more interactive forms of reporting” affecting all avenues of the businesses.
Added Bill Harper, publisher of the Healthy Living Group that includes Yoga Journal and Vegetarian Times, “The pioneering efforts by SNEWS® to network the fitness industry parallel Yoga Journal’s mission to connect and inform the yoga community. Plus, both have broadened the audiences of their respective interest areas. We anticipate a collaboration that will align all of these growing markets even more and offer a larger reach into different markets for advertisers.”
With the acquisition, Gene Treacy, former SNEWS® sales director and business partner, has taken the opportunity to explore other adventures for himself, something he had planned to do by 2008. Managing editor Wendy Geister will continue with the team, as will senior editor Marcus Woolf and sales manager Daisy LeDuc, who will be step into an expanded sales role under AIM. In addition, Sharon Leicham, our SNEWS® MerchandisingHub editor and Jim Moss, our SNEWS® Law Review editor will also be continuing on with our business family.
SNEWS® View: We at SNEWS® have always taken pride in our recognition as a thought leader and watchdog for both the outdoor and fitness industries, and we have never taken your trust and support lightly. Sold? Yes. Any good business keeps its eyes open for appropriate business opportunities. Changing? No. Except in ways that will give you, our readers and customers more – more news, more features, more opportunities, and broader reach into more and different consumer audiences to complement our strong trade voice. With that in mind, the opportunity that AIM presented was too good to pass up, although it came a year or two sooner than we at SNEWS® had anticipated in our business planning. We had been approached by other partnership scenarios – and that in itself was an honor – but none seemed like a really perfect match for ensuring our coveted independence in all that we did while serving both industries that we covered.
With AIM, SNEWS® gets to — and is expected to — maintain its market independence, vigilance, and insider flair. And we get to do that with a truckload of resources (OK, so we know you hear this with every acquisition) we could have not imagined on our own. An example: As a part of the AIM “active interest” family of publications, we will be able to supercharge our user research and response tools to understand exactly what you want and how you want it. If you have any particular thoughts, requests or ideas, please talk to any member of the SNEWS® or AIM teams. We have been referred to as the heart and soul of the fitness industry, a guardian of the outdoor industry ethic and future, as well as a vehicle that has made both industries more of a family. We won’t allow the SNEWS® you know and the feeling it has to break that bond – one that has developed from our depth of experience, focus on honesty and fairness, our staff’s expertise, and our various and valued strategic partnerships.
The only member of our team not moving forward with us into the AIM era is Gene Treacy — our business partner and dear friend since we launched the expanded SNEWS® LLC and GearTrends® network of publications and web in 2003. He’s been working toward a graceful landing, and this acquisition provided him the opportunity to take some time to indulge his curiosity about other avenues of life. Expect to see his smiling face at future trade shows and around the industry as we suspect he won’t be able to stay away for too long. It is hard to separate yourself from an extended family after all.
We wish we could call each and every SNEWS® subscriber, personally reaching out with a thank-you phone call and the chance to speak with each of you. Long ago, we got too big for that – regretfully and also gratefully. So please allow us to take this somewhat impersonal opportunity to let you know that we are thankful for each of you, your subscription loyalty, your friendship, your advice, your comments and input, your support, and your willingness to be a sounding board now and then. Without you, we would not be here now. Without you, there would be no community. Without you, there would be no soul in SNEWS®. Together, and with an injection of energy and resources from our new AIM family, we promise to continue delivering community through communication.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact us either individually (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com) or as a company (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by calling 530-268-8295. Our partners at AIM are also standing by to address any questions, including Backpacker editor-in-chief Jon Dorn, 303-625-1616 (email@example.com) or publisher Kent Ebersole, 303-625-1605 (firstname.lastname@example.org).