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WTC sells VeloNews and Triathlete to previous owner Felix Magowan and partners

Published October 13, 2017
The home of VeloNews and VeloPress in Boulder.

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — The World Triathlon Corporation has sold VeloNews, along with Triathlete and other media titles, to Pocket Outdoor Media, a company founded by Felix Magowan, a previous owner of VeloNews. The sale was finalized late Thursday.

Two others joined Magowan in the purchase. Greg Thomas, a former executive at VeloNews and currently chief executive officer at Space News, and a digital media veteran. Magowan controls a separate company that owns Space News. The other partner is Steve Maxwell, an investment adviser in the water industry and co-editor of The Outer Line, a cycling website. Maxwell is an occasional contributor to VeloNews and Maxwell and Magowan have co-written several columns for BicycleRetailer.com.

Included in the sale are VeloPress, a book publishing enterprise with offices in Boulder, plus Triathlete and Women's Running with offices in San Diego. Triathlete is the only print publication currently serving the sport of triathlon. The sale also includes all affiliated websites. Details of the transaction remain private.

"These are great, well-respected brands that are best read within their sport," Magowan told BRAIN early Friday morning. "Despite the well-known challenges in print today, our team is thrilled to have the chance to rebuild these iconic titles as well as their sister digital operations. We have ambitious growth plans, and want to restore these brands to their historical industry leadership positions as quickly as possible," he said.

Magowan, who takes over as chief executive officer, will focus on reestablishing brand recognition for the titles as well as re-energizing flagging advertising and sales. Thomas, chief operating officer, is responsible for day-to-day company operations. Maxwell will oversee strategic and corporate development. Headquarters will remain in Boulder.

WTC, owner of the Ironman triathlon brand and related holdings, bought Competitor Group last June. CGI owned the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series, other race events, Race IT, an event registration service, as well as the magazine group.

WTC owns all Ironman-branded events, with its legacy Ironman event this weekend in Kona, Hawaii. WTC is a subsidiary of the Dalian Wanda Group with headquarters in Beijing, China. Founded in 1988 and owned by Wang Jianlin, Dalian Wanda has investments in commercial property, cultural assets, internet and finance operations.

Last year it ranked 380th on the Fortune Global 500 list. On June 30, the group reported assets amounting to $133.9 billion with revenue of $20.5 billion. The group bought WTC in 2015 for a reported $650 million from a private equity firm, Providence Equity Partners, Forbes magazine reported.

Dalian Wanda, and its subsidiary WTC, has little interest in publishing. Instead, it wants to focus on building premier outdoor events, particularly in China and other Asian nations.

Magowan, John Wilcockson and Susan Eastman Walton founded Inside Communications in Boulder in 1987, publishing Inside Cycling magazine. The three partners were joined by David Walls when they bought VeloNews in 1988 from Barbara and Robert George.

The Georges had launched the magazine, first called Northeast Cycling, in March 1972. Magowan and the others sold Inside Communications in March 2008 to Competitor Group Inc. for an undisclosed sum (Wilcockson recounted the history in a 2008 column on VeloNews.com).

Meanwhile, a tentative agreement has been reached between Hearst, a major publisher of consumer magazines and websites, and Rodale. Hearst has agreed to purchase Rodale, including Bicycling magazine, Men's Health and other titles, for more than $250 million, according to Ad Age and the New York Post.

Rodale has been on the market for months. Neither side is commenting on the potential sale pending a Justice Department review of anti-trust laws, both Ad Age and the Post reported.

The shake up in magazine ownership reflects the continued financial pressure legacy publishing faces in a market undergoing massive disruption due to the internet.

 

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