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RealTime IT News

Jupitermedia to Challenge Comdex's Fall Show

Jupitermedia Corp. , the parent company of this publication, said it would compete directly with the Comdex IT trade show by holding a show on the same dates as Comdex this fall in Las Vegas. The announcement comes on the heels of an announcement by Key3Media that it was filing for bankruptcy protection from its creditors.

Jupitermedia CEO Alan Meckler said the new show, to be called Computer Digital Expo Fall 2003, will be held Nov. 17-21 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Comdex is scheduled to take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center from Nov. 15-20. Meckler said he intends to make this show "the next generation Comdex."

On Monday, Key3Media announced a pre-packaged bankruptcy plan that would restructure $372 million worth of debt and reduce its obligations to about $50 million.

The chief executive of Key3Media, which produces the Comdex technology trade show, said its bankruptcy reorganization would give potential exhibitors clarity about taking part.

Instead of "talking about restructuring, you have companies that can now put up deposits because they know the shows are going to be held," said Frederic Rosen, chairman and CEO of Key3Media, which also produces the NetWorld+Interop and Seybold Seminars trade shows.

Meckler maintains that Comdex has no exhibitors signed up for the fall, providing an opening for his company to offer a more attractive showcase for the IT industry. He believes that the company's ability to reach 20 million unique visitors with its online properties gives it a formidable marketing vehicle from which to launch a competing show.

Rosen told InternetNews.com that he believes his show would change with the times. "We're going to produce all the shows in a way that reflects the (technology) constituency we represent. The world is not the same as it was three years ago, and that's true for any industry such as hospitality or travel."

Key3Media and Jupitermedia also face a third challenger. Sheldon Adelson, the founder of Comdex and manager of Las Vegas's Sands Convention Center, has also announced his intention to launch a show at the same time.

Rosen said the company's reorganization would provide it with financial stability in order to bring the company's trade shows "back to business as usual" that reflects the current state and size of the technology industry.

The tech trade show industry may be smaller he said, but it's quite viable. After all, Rosen added, if it wasn't, he doubts that financial backers Thomas Weisel Capital Partners would have made financial commitments to the company's reorganization.

Thomas Weisel, which holds about 68 percent of Key3Media's bank debt and about 38 percent of its bonds, said it would provide $30 million worth of debtor-in-possession financing in order to fund the company's ongoing operations and help it continue producing trade shows while it reorganized operations.

Lawrence Sorrell, managing partner at Thomas Weisel Capital Partners, was traveling and unavailable for comment. In a statement about the reorganization, he said Key3Media is fundamentally a sound company that "has been hurt by its capital structure and the declines in the IT and networking industries."

Sorrell added that the trade show market market showed "great potential in the years ahead" -- a sentiment echoed by David Adler, the chief executive of BizBash.com, a New York-based publication about the events industry.

Despite the difficulties in the IT industry, now is a "fantastic time to start a show, even in technology, because you can only go up," Adler said.

Adler, who also chairs NYC & Co., a convention promotions group that seeks to attract trade shows to the New York area, said the city of Las Vegas has been very aggressive about making trade shows appealing on costs, both to producers and exhibitors.

"A trade show is also an efficient way of getting up to speed on the market place," and a company's message to it, he said. "People are going to look over the new kid on the block," he said of Jupitermedia's own competing event announcement. "It's called capitalism."