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Sullivan Leaving SES, Search Engine Watch

Danny Sullivan is leaving Search Engine Watch and the Search Engine Strategies conference series after 10 years, according to a post on his blog. Incisive Media and Mr. Sullivan could not agree on contract renewal terms.

Mr. Sullivan sold the Search Engine Watch news Web site in 1997 to what later became Jupitermedia. Jupitermedia started the SES conference series. When Jupitermedia sold the site and series to Incisive Media last year, Mr. Sullivan was unhappy but let his contract be extended through the end of 2006, he wrote.

“We definitely valued Danny’s role here, and it’s with regret that we see him go,” said Matt McGowan, vice president of marketing at Incisive Media, New York.

Mr. Sullivan wrote in his blog that he explained to Incisive that he needed incentive to continue helping expand the site and conferences. More than a year of negotiating yielded no agreement.

Mr. McGowan said that Mr. Sullivan wanted to double the amount he was getting paid.

“It became ridiculous,” he said.

Incisive believes the SES shows will continue successfully, as this year’s SES San Jose drew 6,000 attendees, one-third of them new delegates.

“After 10 years of growth in size and sophistication, the search optimization and marketing industry is bigger than one person,” said Lisa Wehr, CEO of Oneupweb. “And Danny will land on his feet. The search optimization and marketing industry’s challenge for the last several years has been reaching marketing decision makers — that remains a challenge.”

Mr. Sullivan will serve as editor-in-chief of Search Engine Watch through Nov. 30. He will chair the SES Multimedia and Mobile Edition show in October in Los Angeles and the SES Chicago show in December.

“I was truly surprised by the news,” said David Berkowitz, director of strategic planning at 360i, San Francisco. “Danny is so key and has done so much in raising awareness and bringing this very small niche marketing channel to becoming the biggest part of online ad spending. It’s surprising to see someone like that step down from such a prominent post.”

Mr. Sullivan expects to do writing and conferences for other companies.

“I love both the site and the conference series,” he wrote. “I hate to say goodbye to them. They’ve also been good to me. I’ve done very well financially and enjoyed plenty of personal satisfaction through them. I’ve written things that people have told me have helped them immensely. At our conferences, it’s great to hear from so many people that they’ve learned a lot or far more than they were expecting.”

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