Saturday, January 20, 2007

VNU is no more

VNU has changed its name to The Nielsen Company. After 40 years VNU will no longer be a brand for a multinational publishing company which started out in the Netherlands and moved over to the States to become a market data registration company.

For many people in The Netherlands, who worked for the company, it will be a sentimental goodbye to a publishing company. So it is for me. I was twice an employee for VNU. In 1970 I started out my career with Het Spectrum, the book publishing company most famous for its pocket lines, Prisma for consumer titles and Aula for the scientific titles. I joined the reference department, a new department tucked away in Amsterdam on an attic above an old synagogue; the new encyclopaedia project was most secret. I stayed for three years, before the publication of the first volume of the Great Spectrum Encyclopaedia.

In 1979 I was back at VNU. This time I had joined the Intermediair company, which published a controlled circulation weekly for academics and college students. The company had just been named the stepping stone for new activities of the just formed Business Press Group, which would undertake new activities and internationalisation. I got involved in both activities. In the media lab VNU Database Publishing International I got involved in online activities (videotext and ASCII databases) and from 1983 till 1986 I was seconded to the British branch of VNU in London (I was the second employee to be seconded abroad).

VNU started out as a newspaper and magazine publisher and had a joie de vivre, enthusiasm and creativity up to late eighties. At that moment the managers took over. Growth and further internationalisation were the key words. The balloon was pumped and pumped, until it burst. And it did with a bang: it was taken over by private investment companies, taken off the stock exchange, sold in parts and made lean and mean in the international data registration companies and associated American business publications. VNU had turned from a Dutch multinational publishing company into an American multinational market data registration company (part of the HQ are still in The Netherlands, but that is for tax reasons).

VNU is no more. The reason for the change of name is funny. A spokesperson for the Nielsen company said that Nielsen was better known as the name VNU. This was already since the first VNU representative in the US in the seventies. He used the acronym VNU as the full name United Dutch Publishers did not make much sense and even evoked the impression of a company with socialist statutes. Now the 40 years old company name has been replaced with the company name of a 75 years old. And with the change of name an end has come to VNU as a publishing company.

At this occassion I hold a virtual VNU reunion. These people I met in the VNU company and still stand out in my mind. I have left out people who died.

Spectrum time
Mari Pijnenborg
Rob Emmelkamp
Inez van Eijk
Leo van Grunsven
Frits Oomes
Jolijn van Dop
Ids Haagsma
A van Loon
Ben Paul
Herman Vuijsje
G. Abels
George Beekman
Panc Beentjes
Midas Dekker
Frans Duivis
Leo Jacobs
Herman Kernkamp
J. Mabelis
H. de Nijs
Carla Rogge
Flip Vuijsje
Tine Keuning
Dick Ahles
Bart Drubbel
Cees de Jong

Joep Brentjes
Xavier Koot
Koos Guis
Rob van de Bergh
Pim de Wit

Jay Curry
Arjen Everts
Wim Poelman
Tom Otting
Hans Rademaker
Geert de Groot
Pieter van Rooijen
Emily Knegtel
Marjan Hokke
Paula Zwan
Lia Baarsen
Jeanette Liebeek
Chris Schippers
Lucy in the Sky

Media Info Newsletter
Chiel Kramer
Bert Wiggers
Sandra Dol

Blog Posting Number: 639


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