In a quiet changing of the guard, Bill Pardue announced that, after 7 years with LexisNexis, he was resigning as president and CEO of its Corporate & Federal Markets to take a new position with Gartner, Inc. Practically in the same breath, Andy Prozes, CEO of LexisNexis Group, was ready with his replacement—Kurt Sanford, a 7-year veteran of LexisNexis, who has been CEO of LexisNexis Asia Pacific since August 2001. Sanford will be moving back to Dayton, Ohio, from his present home in Singapore. Is this the 7-year itch for LexisNexis CEOs?
Sanford has both a law degree (from Suffolk University Law School in Boston) and an M.B.A. (from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania). Before coming to LexisNexis, he worked as a consultant for Bain & Company. His career at LexisNexis has been primarily with legal information, developing the strategy for U.S. legal business units and running the Large Law Firm Markets unit before taking on Asia Pacific responsibilities.
In his new CEO position, Sanford will oversee the LexisNexis business as it affects information professionals, corporate and government attorneys, chief information officers, strategic planners, and other corporate professionals, many of whom are power users of Nexis as well as Lexis. Additionally, Sanford will oversee community and government relations for the new LexisNexis computing and research facility being built in Springfield, Ohio. Particularly in the area of community relations, Sanford has a tough act to follow. Bill Pardue is well known in the Dayton area for his commitment to civic improvement and charitable activities.
Pardue will be taking on a top tier job at Gartner, which is based in Stamford, Conn., although the actual title won't be announced until Gartner reveals the full details of its reorganization on its earnings release date of Feb. 5, 2004. What Gartner will say is that Pardue will hold a "key operating role," will head one of three "levels" that Gartner is establishing, and will report to Maureen O'Connor, the company's president and COO. In all probability, such functions as basic research, client services, and events will report to him. Pardue, who worked for the Washington Post, Associated Press, and Times Mirror after earning a law degree at Harvard, seems ideally suited to Gartner's information technology research and publishing environment.
The business environment for companies such as Gartner is difficult. Outsell, Inc. sees this segment of the information content industry as having the poorest growth potential, largely due to the slowdown in corporate spending on information technology. In December, Gartner laid off 5 percent of its workforce, bringing the total employee base to 3,800 people, considerably fewer people than Reed Elsevier boasts. Like Reed Elsevier, Gartner has an extensive global base; the difference being that there are many fewer people in each geographic location.
According to a Gartner spokesperson, the recent departure of strategic planner EVP Bob Knapp to become CEO at Harris Interactive was not connected with the hiring of Pardue. Heading the Gartner level, although it has a strategic component, is much more of an operational position than a straight strategic planning position would be.
With a difficult economy and squeezed budgets, both Gartner and LexisNexis confront similar challenges. Both have undergone downsizing exercises. Both are public companies. Both have an established business model that has worked well in the past, but needs to be updated to comply with the requirements of a modern information world where data flows much more freely and peoples' expectations of wide availability of quality data are heightened.
Pressure on LexisNexis to increase revenues is likely to increase with recent decisions by major universities, such as Cornell, Harvard, Duke, and University of North Carolina, to drastically scale back their purchases of Elsevier journal titles. If Reed Elsevier anticipates a shortfall in revenues from one of their business units—and Elsevier's scientific properties have made it a reliable money-generator for quite some time—then it's logical for the company to look elsewhere within its business units to make up the slack. It looks as if both Sanford and Pardue have a lot of hard work ahead of them.