One of the best jobs ever was the six years that I spent in working for Knight-Ridder in Asia. When I was a kid (28 years old) I was the first marketing person hired by KRI in Asia (based in Tokyo) and held the position of Asia Marketing Director (based in Hong Kong) when I left in 1995. We built an Asia business that was less than $10 million when I joined the company in 1989 into $50 million during that short six years and all was electronic. Believe it or not, fifteen years ago Knight-Ridder was a pioneering, pre-Web, global e-media business.
It is so sad that Knight-Ridder has now been sold and it looks like many of the flagship newspapers (Philadelphia Enquirer and San Jose Mercury News for example) will be put on the block.
When Tony Ridder (great grandson of the founder of Ridder newspapers) shifted into being exclusively a newspaper business ten years ago, he abandoned both his electronic and also his international strategies.
We built some $100 million in revenue outside of the United States by 1995 and the Asia part of that business was growing by something like 50% per year. It was certainly frustrating at the time to try to figure out why a business with overall growth of less than 5% would throw away a fast growing international business. And it is sad to see the end result ten years later of this short sighted thinking.
But the good news is that many electronic pioneers from Knight-Ridder have found their niches. Steve Goldstein, CEO of Alacra (who I worked closely with) founded a great company. Take a look at Steve’s analysis of KRI here. And Ken Doctor, who was a VP at Knight-Ridder Digital is now an analyst. Ken has written some of the best analysis there is of the KRI sagas of recent months.