Andrew Siegel, a former General Electric and Yahoo executive who was brought on in 2010 to focus on Advance’s corporate strategy, which included mergers and acquisitions, is transitioning to a new role at the company.
The executive, who most recently held the title of founding partner and chairman for Advance Vixeid Partners, the investment arm of the Condé Nast parent, will become president of American City Business Journals’ Growth Strategies Group.
Owned by Advance, American City Business Journals includes 40 metro weekly brands, The Business Journals, Street & Smith’s Sports Group (SportsBusiness Journal, SportsBusiness Daily), and Hemmings Motor News. Advance said it will search for Siegel’s successor.
It wasn’t too long ago that Advance’s hire of Siegel, a former vice president of corporate development at Yahoo, made headlines in the media world and suggested that the publisher was getting serious about charting its digital future.
Siegel started his job in early 2011 armed with a $500 million war chest, which he put toward the acquisition of data firm 101data Inc. in 2015. Other investments have included stakes in Farfetch, Rent the Runway, Moda Operandi, Vestiaire, Joor, Nativo and a recent a $10 million cash infusion in Lorne Michaels’ Above Average.
Still, none of Siegel’s investments have produced windfalls and have, for the most part, been on the conservative side and spread across many smaller firms. Typically, Advance takes a 10 to 20 percent stake in a company, Siegel told WWD late last year.
Although Advance gave the executive a large amount to start with, those funds have dried up somewhat.
When asked at the end of 2016 how much Advance had to invest over the next three years, he said: “We’re going to deploy about $150 million in investments over the next three years through AV Partners, which is a growth equity investing platform….I would say the pace would be about $50 million a year. We’d invest in between three and five companies. Last year, we only made one investment because valuations were a little overblown. We looked at 600 companies last year and made only one investment.”
Although Siegel will continue to sit on the board of DigiTour, Moda Operandi and Unified Inc., companies he invested in while at Advance, he will no longer work on any future projects. (At Advance and its sister companies, such as Condé, executives and, occasionally, editors take board seats on companies it invests in. At the moment, those employees are not compensated with equity.)
Siegel’s departure from the role follows Patti Rockenwagner‘s exit from the investment arm. Rockenwagner decamped for STX Entertainment in 2016. Both Rockenwagner and Siegel had worked with Gina Sanders, who is related by marriage to the Newhouse family, following her stint as president and chief executive officer of WWD-parent Fairchild Fashion Media, before it was sold to Penske Media Corp. in 2014. It could not be determined if Sanders was still involved in investment strategy.