After two decades as a division of Atlantic Media, GovExec is going independent.
Atlantic Media owner David Bradley has sold a controlling stake in Government Executive Media Group (GEMG), a portfolio of media brands serving the public sector, to Growth Catalyst Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
Following the sale, Peter Goldstone, a veteran B2B media exec who was CEO of Hanley Wood from 2012 to 2018 and served as president of GEMG from 2010 to 2012, will rejoin the company as chairman, while Bradley will maintain a minority stake in the company as well as a seat on the board.
Included in the deal are all four of GEMG’s brands—its flagship, Government Executive, as well as Defense One, Nextgov and Route Fifty—all of which serve government professionals at the federal, state or local level. An Atlantic Media rep tells Folio: that all current staffers at GEMG, including its management team, CEO Tim Hartman, president Connie Sayers and editor-in-chief Tom Shoop, will remain in place after the sale.
A middle-market private equity firm founded in 2015 by Scott Peters and Jim Tenbroek, Growth Catalyst Partners says it specializes in information, marketing, and “tech-enabled services” businesses. Its portfolio includes CyberRisk Alliance, the B2B media firm founded in 2018 by Doug Manoni, the former CEO of both SourceMedia and Wicks Business Information.
In a statement, Peters called GEMG an ideal investment for the firm, citing its existing management team and its strong reputation in a “large, fragmented industry sector with high growth potential” and pledged to invest in both organic growth and acquisitions.
Bradley added that 2019 was “the strongest year in Government Executive‘s 50-year history.” GEMG declined to provide specific revenue numbers, but says it’s had five consecutive years of growth at “approximately 10% year-over-year.”
“This new partnership is going to fuel our growth and enable us to make investments in new products and strategic acquisitions, and author new groundbreaking industry partnerships, all as a fast-moving, independent company,” said Hartman.
Founded in 1969, Government Executive was acquired by National Journal in 1987, which itself was purchased by Bradley a decade later, in 1997. National Journal Group was renamed Atlantic Media after Bradley’s acquisition of The Atlantic in 1999.
The sale represents a further slimming of Atlantic Media’s portfolio, coming a little less than three years after Laurene Powell Jobs’s Emerson Collective acquired a 70% stake in The Atlantic, with Bradley and Atlantic Media similarly maintaining a minority stake in the publication after that deal. Atlantic Media continues to operate both National Journal Group and The Atlantic, though the expectation remains that Emerson Collective will take over full ownership of The Atlantic in the near future. Quartz, another Atlantic Media holding, was sold to Tokyo-based Uzabase in 2018.
“Now it seems almost certain that [Government Executive] stands at the threshold of its most-ambitious, most-ascendant hour,” added Bradley. “The advantage of scale—of the full range of services offered across the nation’s whole geography—is compelling.”