Kennedy Information, publisher of an executive search directory that was once the bible of the industry, is part of a bankruptcy filing by its parent, BNA Subsidiaries. The company is itself a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bureau of National Affairs.
Best known today for the Kennedy Conference (which was merged in 2009 with OnRec), Kennedy has some 70 staffers in offices in Los Angeles, New York, London, and its headquarters in New Hampshire.
Kennedy’s future is unclear; however, BNA is seeking Chapter 11 protection and reorganization for BNA Subsidiaries, which also includes the Institute of Management and Administration, Inc. as an asset.
The 40-year-old Kennedy Information began as a publisher of a directory of search firms in the U.S. The Red Book (officially, Directory of Executive & Professional Recruiters) is still published today, but its influence and value have waned. The Internet began usurping the book’s usefulness in the mid-90s, just as it did to so many other publications.
In its heyday, the Red Book was considered so important to the search industry that to not be included could be costly, potentially even fatal to firms that didn’t have a strong brand. However, founder Jim Kennedy took pains to include every search firm in the U.S. Then in the same way the Yellow Pages makes money, firms were sold bigger ads, bold face listings, and more. Plus, corporate HR offices, libraries, staffing firms, and the search firms themselves bought copies.
Over time, the Red Book was joined by newsletters for the search industry and consultants and some smaller directories. In 1996, just as the Internet was beginning to show its potential, Kennedy sold the business for $2 million to an investment group owned by brothers Wayne and Marshall Cooper. They broadened its product line, adding consulting, additional newsletters, research reports, and they expanded beyond the company’s historic focus on recruiting to include an investor relations branch.
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Significantly, the brothers launched a recruiting conference that had a distinct focus on online recruiting.
So successful were they that by 2000 the Bureau of National Affairs Inc., perhaps influenced by the stunning runup in Internet investments, paid $47.7 million for the company, which had a reported income of about $10 million at the time.
The timing couldn’t have been worse. The U.S. was already slipping into a recession that burst the Internet bubble and caused layoffs throughout the tech sector. At the end of 2009, Tarsus Group, owners of OnRec, bought the Kennedy conference business from BNA. In addition, it also got RecruitingTrends.com, a recruiter information site. No price was disclosed.
Anna Brekka, who was senior director and managing editor of RecruitingTrends, and RD Whitney, a vice president and general manager at Kennedy, joined Tarsus as VP OnRec and managing editor, and CEO, Tarsus Online Media respectively.