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COLUMN: After 40 Years The Future Looks Very Bright

Robert Faletra

The Channel Company Founding Partner Robert Faletra takes a look back at the 40-year history of CRN and why it’s been a strong survivor ins a media field littered with casualties.

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With CRN reaching its 40th year in operation, it becomes a challenge to recount all the major events, stories and changes in the industry over that period of time, let alone changes to CRN.

We’ve attempted to do just that in this issue and online, but I want to talk a bit about CRN and The Channel Company.

When I joined the publication as a reporter in October 1989, the competitive set was large for what was then a weekly print newspaper. Within a few years of my joining and becoming the Editor in Chief, we had driven the publication to be the largest business-to-business trade publication in the world.

Back then The Wall Street Journal and other “mainstream media” had yet to discover high-tech and, while we fielded 75 reporters, they had a handful. Our weekly was more than 200 pages on a regular basis, and our Comdex trade show issue was often more than 600 pages. In some weeks, we published multiple issues.

Today CRN not only stands alone in high-tech channel publishing, it is one of the few surviving B2B brands in high-tech.

Our website gets enormous traffic from not only North America-based strategic service providers but from a worldwide audience. And it is growing. Obviously, the print media business in general has changed dramatically and what all publishers do today is online-based given the ability to instantly provide the latest news and information.

So why is CRN such a strong survivor in a field littered with casualties, and what does the future project?

To the first question, we won because we worked harder, invested more and had a take-no-prisoners approach to defending the value and competence of our audience. We have never been afraid to take the heat from the vendor community when we expose a bad program or change in direction that puts our readership’s business model in jeopardy. On more than one occasion we have had advertising pulled or a vendor approach a potential competitor and tell them they will support a launch against CRN. The challenge with that is no contender will ever have the passion, experience and understanding we do. And, frankly, we want the vendor/supplier community as well as the partner base to do well. We investigate and write the hard stories because we believe and have proven that good programs and policy with partners grows the business and profit for both sides.

CRN and The Channel Company are moving into a new investment and expansion era, one in which we will enhance worldwide our business principles that have been so successful.

While CRN has been a worldwide brand for a number of years, we have made several acquisitions over the past year that now prepare us to duplicate and enhance our larger business model globally.

The Channel Company provides services that increase the efficiency and measurable results of MDF allocated and spent through partners. We provide research, analysis and consulting services on go-to-market channel strategies worldwide. The number of worldwide channel events through our XChange group is increasing, and we will be the largest purveyor of independent channel events not only in North America but in Europe soon and elsewhere within a few short years.

As we unfold the worldwide expansion, the guiding principles we have fine-tuned over 40 years will remain the same.

Understanding, talking to and listening to the audience on a daily basis and engaging from a base of knowledge and understanding with the vendor community helps us breed success for partners and suppliers. Always has, always will.

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