Penton (company)

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Industry Information services and marketing solutions
Founded 1904
Founder John Penton
Headquarters 1166 Avenue of the Americas, New York, United States
Key people
David Kieselstein (CEO)
Owner Wasserstein & Co./MidOcean Partners

Penton is an information services and marketing company.[2] The company's three largest revenue streams come from events, digital and marketing services.[3] Although Penton had a long history (see below) as a trade publisher, in 2014 it reported that 45 percent of its EBITDA derived from digital products, 34 percent from events, and 21 percent from print.[4] The main industry segments served by Penton include agriculture, transportation, natural products/food, infrastructure, and design and manufacturing.

The company is descended from Penton Publishing, founded by John Penton in 1904 to bring together production of several trade magazine titles, including Foundry, which he had created in Detroit in 1892.[5]

Penton's global headquarters had been in the Penton Media Building in Downtown Cleveland, Ohio since 2000.[6] However, after the Penton/Prism merger, the company is now headquartered in New York City,[7] although it continues to maintain offices in Cleveland and other U.S. cities, with an employee base of approximately 1,350 people.[8]

Due to reduced advertising sales as customers shifted to digital media from print, Penton went through "pre-packaged" bankruptcy reorganization in 2010.[9][10]

Early history[edit]

Penton's history began with two Cleveland companies, Penton Publishing Co, founded by John A. Penton—an iron molder by trade[11]—in 1904, and the Industrial Publishing Co. John Penton had been involved in publishing trade magazines since 1887, creating Foundry in Detroit (1892), and then the Iron and Steel Press Co in Cleveland (1901). In Cleveland, he also published The Iron Trade Review, which became IndustryWeek.

By the 1920s, the company was a large business magazine publisher, for several years printing "Time" under contract.[12] Between 1938 and 1945, Penton helped the United States Census establish the Standard Industrial Classification system, a digital coding system for industries.[13]

In 1976, Penton was acquired by Pittway, a security system corporation, and merged with the Industrial Publishing Company. It was spun off by Pittway to become an independent company in 1998.[14]


Numerous corporate acquisitions, sales, and mergers have occurred over the years. Wasserstein & Co. purchased Prism Business Media from Primedia in August 2005 for $385 million.[15] Prism Business Media was then merged when Wasserstein purchased Penton Media in November 2006 for $194 million.[16] The combined entity took the Penton Media name, later dropping the "Media" part.[17] After the merger, Penton became one of the largest B2B media companies in the world.[18]

In late 2010, Penton acquired Nation's Restaurant News. In early 2011, Penton sold Mix, Electronic Musician, Radio, and Sound & Video Contractor magazines to NewBay Media.[19]

Also in 2011, Penton acquired EyeTraffic Media, an online marketing firm. This was Penton's first marketing services acquisition.[20] Also in 2011, Penton acquired Nine Lives Media, an IT publisher with industry-related blogs.[21] In 2012, Penton acquired Highline LP of the United Kingdom, adding to its digital aviation business.[22] and Penton acquired Farm Progress from Fairfax Media Limited of Sydney, Australia, expanded its agriculture sector becoming the lead in agriculture information and marketing solutions.[23]

Additionally in 2012, Penton's Technology Media Group went all digital.[24] In the same year, David Kieselstein became CEO and was tasked with broadening Penton's digital solutions, entering new industry sectors, and exploring growth markets.[25]

In April 2013, Penton acquired, an online community for Microsoft Management professionals.[26] In the same month, Penton published the final issue of California Farmer, California's oldest farm magazine. Stating that the magazine wasn't as profitable as its other publications, Penton merged it with another property, Western Farm Press.[27]

In August 2013, Penton acquired Aviation Week from McGraw Hill Financial, expanding its aviation footprint.[28] In October 2013, Penton announced that Broadcast Engineering magazine would cease publication after 54 years.[29] In January 2015, Penton acquired iNet, a Cincinnati-based event and digital information company, focused on the cloud computing, hosting and data center segments.[30]

Data Solutions[edit]

Despite its long history as a trade publisher, in March 2014 Penton moved towards monetizing its large (16 million records) database to support marketing campaigns.[31] In order to do so, it created the Penton SmartReach division to sell subscriber data directly rather than through third-party list vendors.[32]

Penton analyses publicly available data for customers in industry sectors including agriculture, transportation, food, design and manufacturing, and infrastructure. One of Penton's data solutions tools, NEXT Trend, for example, provides analysis for the natural products and food industry. In 2014, it predicted 50 percent growth by 2018 in the healthy, organic, and natural products market.[33] NEXT Trend also makes data-based predictions about the market for specific ingredients, such as chia.[34]

NEXT Accelerator is an online community for natural product entrepreneurs. It has been described as "an online portal open to anyone building a natural products startup...with video content and reading materials, worksheets, legal templates and regulatory documents and supplier and vendor information that can help young companies start and grow."[35] Members also have access to a vetted list of service providers such as packaging vendors, branding consultants, and attorneys with relevant experience.[36]

Govalytics captures and analyzes data generated by U.S. city and county governments for vendors marketing to municipalities.[37] The company plans to expand coverage to the top 100 metropolitan statistical areas.[38]


In addition to trade publishing and data solutions, Penton runs an events portfolio based on some of its media offerings, serving vendors and customers in the aviation, agriculture, and natural products segments. These include a series of Aviation Week MRO conferences,;[39] the Farm Progress show;[40] and the Natural Products Expos.[41]


  1. ^ "BtoB Penton Media buys Farm Progress, boosts agricultural offerings" Ad Age, 13 November 2012
  2. ^ Bill Mickey, "Penton Launches New Data Solutions Division" Folio 24 March 2014
  3. ^ Bill Mickey, "Penton Rebrands Itself as Information Services Business." Folio, 11 November 2014.
  4. ^ "Investor Relations", retrieved 20 February 2015
  5. ^ "Penton Media," The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History 2004; retrieved 2 January 2015.
  6. ^ Penton relocates corporate headquarters retrieved 30 December 2007
  7. ^ About Penton retrieved 30 December 2007
  8. ^ Penton office locations retrieved 30 December 2007
  9. ^ "Penton Media gets bankruptcy plan OK, to exit soon" Reuters 5 March 2010
  10. ^ Steve Smith, "Penton Emerges from Bankruptcy" Min 10 March 2010
  11. ^ "Penton Media, Inc. History" Funding Universe retrieved 10 January 2015
  12. ^ Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, 2004
  13. ^ "Penton Media, Inc. History" Funding Universe retrieved 10 January 2015
  14. ^ "Penton Media Is Successfully Spun Off from Parent Pittway Corp," The Simba Report on Directory Publishing, September 1998
  15. ^ "Primedia Business Information (Now Prism Business Media)" Folio 27 January 2006
  16. ^ "Penton Media gets bankruptcy plan OK, to exit soon" Reuters 5 March 2010
  17. ^ "Prism Completes Penton Acquisition" AdAge 12 February 2007
  18. ^ "John French, Penton Media" AdAge 16 July 2007
  19. ^ "Newbay Media Acquires Mix, Electronic Musician, Radio, And Sound & Video Contractor From Penton," Pro Sound News, Feb 2011
  20. ^ Casey Welton, "Penton Buys Marketing Services Agency EyeTraffic Media" Folio 10 March 2011.
  21. ^ Stephanie Botelho, "Penton Acquires IT Publisher Nine Lives Media" Folio, 30 August 2011.
  22. ^ Bill Micket, "Penton Buys U.K.-Based Highline" Folio 25 June 2012.
  23. ^ Bill Mickey, "Penton Acquires Farm Progress Companies for $79.9 Million" Folio 13 November 2012.
  24. ^ Sean Callahan, "Penton's technology media group to go all-digital" Ad Age BtoB 27 February 2012.
  25. ^ Bill Mickey, "Penton Hires David Kieselstein as CEO" Folio 30 January 2012.
  26. ^ Joe Panetteri, "
  27. ^ Finz, Stacy. "California Farmer Magazine Ends Its Run". SFGate, 26 April 2013.
  28. ^ Bill Mickey, "Penton Buys Aviation Week from McGraw Hill" Folio 24 July 2013.
  29. ^ "Broadcast Engineering Magazine Shuts Down" TV Technology 28 October 2013.
  30. ^ Erin Caproni, "Cincinnati IT company acquired by tech giant" Cincinnati Business Courier 16 January 2015.
  31. ^ Bill Mickey, "Penton Launches New Data Solutions Division" Folio, 24 March 2014.
  32. ^ Bill Mickey, "Penton Launches New Data Solutions Division" Folio, 24 March 2014.
  33. ^ Jessica Wohl, "Wal-Mart aims to push organic foods into mainstream" Chicago Tribune, 10 April 2014; Beth Kowitt, "Whole Foods takes over America" Fortune, 10 April 2014.
  34. ^ Donna Berry, "Chia gaining ground as an ingredient" Fortune Business News 25 March 2014.
  35. ^ Laura Baverman, "An accelerator re-imagined for moms, foods and natural products" The Business Journals: Upstart, 25 September 2013.
  36. ^ Nina Meijers, "New Hope Launches NEXT Accelerator for Natural Products Startups" Food Tech Connect 1 October 2013; Laura Baverman, "Entrepreneurs find success in natural products" USA Today 14 October 2014.
  37. ^ Jim Sturdivant, "Industry Update: Penton Launches Govalytics" Media Shepherd, 3 December 2013.
  38. ^ Casey Welton, "Penton Introduces Data Tool, Govalytics" Folio, 3 December 2013.
  39. ^ Patrick Castleberry, "Great Show – Aviation Week's MRO Americas 2013" Air Vault 19 April 2013
  40. ^ Donelle Eller, "5 things to watch at Farm Progress Show" Des Moines Register 23 August 2014; Aaron Hepker and Reid Chandler, "2014 Farm Progress Show Kicks Off" NBC WhoTV 26 August 2014.
  41. ^ Mary McVean, "Natural Products Expo West harvests snacks, discusses labeling" LA Times 14 March 2014; Chris Kilham, "New trends in natural products showcased at industry expo" Fox News 12 March 2014

Further reading[edit]

  • The History of Penton Publishing, Cleveland, Ohio: Penton Publishing, 1994.

External links[edit]