The acquisition of ProQuest by Clarivate rattled the library industry, in a bold move that further deepens consolidation. This $5.3 billion transaction brings ProQuest under the umbrella of Clarivate, a major force in the scholarly communications and intellectual property business sectors. Though not a primary publisher, Clarivate offers key content and analytics products including Web of Science, ScholarOne, Publons, InCites analytics, and Endnote. Clarivate competes with Elsevier and Digital Science as a workflow and analytics provider in the scholarly communications business ecosystem. By acquiring ProQuest, Clarivate extends its product strategy to include core library technologies as well as a major portfolio of database and content products. This acquisition moves ProQuest into the ranks of publicly traded companies (NYSE:CLVT). The merger was pitched to investors as saving $100 million in operational expenses across the two companies. Libraries naturally have an interest in seeing how these savings are accomplished. [For additional details see: Clarivate to Acquire ProQuest SLN Jul 2021]
Prior to its acquisition by Clarivate, ProQuest made its own set of bold business acquisitions. Its 2015 acquisition of Ex Libris (SLN Nov 2015) catapulted its role as a technology provider for academic libraries, revolving around Alma rather than the Intota platform it was developing internally. Alma proved to be enormously successful and is now well established as the dominant platform for academic libraries. Add-on products such as Leganto for course list management, Esploro for research services, and Rapido expand the technology ecosystem provided through Ex Libris' Higher-ed Cloud.
ProQuest's 2020 acquisition of Innovative Interfaces (SLN Jan 2020) meant an incremental increase in market share among academic libraries and marked its initial foray into the public library sphere. This deal was challenged in an after-closing review by the Federal Trade Commission initiated in January 2020 (SLN May 2020), which gave full clearance of the merger in November (SLN Dec 2020).
Clarivate's acquisition of ProQuest likewise faced FTC scrutiny, resulting in a delay of its closing from the third quarter of 2021 until December . (see press release ) Organizations including SPARC (press release December 2, 2021), lobbied against the merger arguing that this move harmed libraries by reducing competition. The completion of the acquisition announced on December 1, 2021 marked the beginning of the business integration of ProQuest, Ex Libris, and Innovative into Clarivate.
In January 2022 Clarivate started to reorganize its executive structure, placing Gordon Samson, formerly the President responsible for its Intellectual Property division as Chief Product Officer; Mukhtar Ahmed, responsible for the Science segment of Clarivate under which ProQuest resides, will exit this role in April 2022 and will leave the company in October 2022, serving in an advisory role in the interim (see press release ).
Clarivate Chief Financial Officer Richard Hanks departed in December 2021, replaced by Jonathan Collins who had previously served as Chief Financial Officer for ProQuest (2013-2016). Collins' previous experience with ProQuest can be seen as important as Clarivate executes its large-scale business integration. Hank's departure as CFO coincides with disclosures of errors in financial statements related to Clarivate's 2020 acquisition of CPA Global, which led to a short-term drop in stock price (see Clarivate 10KA and Clarivate press release ). Clarivate representatives note that the replacement of Hanks with Collins in the CFO position was underway prior to the discovery of the misstatements. Clarivate issued a press release related to the restatement of its financial statements.
Matti Shem Tov, ProQuest CEO, who led Ex Libris through multiple rounds of ownership transitions and unprecedented growth in its technology business, transitions out of the company. Until his departure at the end of the second quarter of 2022, he will continue in an advisory role as emeritus CEO. Shem Tov joined Ex Libris as President and CEO in May 2003 and was named ProQuest CEO in May 2017.
Under Clarivate, each of the four ProQuest business are led by a General Manager with the CEO title reserved for the top-level organization.
- Chris Burghardt was appointed as General Manager for ProQuest Information Solutions since September 2020 and continues in that role
- Audrey Marcus was recently named the General Manager for the ProQuest Books business.
- Burghardt and Marcus lead the two main business areas of ProQuest.
- Ofer Mosseri has been named General Manager for Ex Libris following the departure of former President Oded Scharfstein.
- Yariv Kursh continues his role as General Manager for Innovative.
Note: General Managers do not report directly through the Clarivate CEO but have other reporting lines.
Oren Beit-Arie, Chief Strategy Officer and President ProQuest Books transitions out of those roles and will continue as an advisor to Clarivate through the end the year.
Jerre Stead leads Clarivate as its Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. He was previously Chief Executive Officer of Churchill Capital Corp, a publicly traded investment entity, which merged with Clarivate Analytics in May 2019 to form Clarivate. Clarivate Analytics was formerly the Intellectual Property and Science division of Thomson Reuters. Stead served as Chairman and CEO of IHS Markit and has led several other companies in the technology and information services sector.
Other recent and upcoming Ex Libris departures include:
- Industry leader Jane Burke retired from ProQuest in December 2021. Burke has held a number of positions, including VP for ProQuest and General Manager of Serials Solutions. The Serials Solutions brand was retired in March 2014. More recently Burke was Vice President for Customer Success for Ex Libris. Burke previously served as President and CEO for Endeavor Information Systems, which created the Voyager ILS and was President of NOTIS Systems. Burke came to NOTIS from CLSI, one of the early commercial companies offering integrated library systems. Burke's retirement was not related to the merger.
- Eric Hines, President of Ex Libris North America left the company in advance of the merger.
- Ido Peled, Vice President of Mobile Campus Solutions left the company in January 2022.
- Shlomi Kringel Corporate Vice President for Learning and Research Solutions for Ex Libris exits at the end of the second quarter
One of the key concerns for libraries relates to whether Clarivate will be able to retain the expertise that drove the success of Ex Libris.
The changes to date represent the early phase of the business integration of ProQuest into Clarivate. Organizational roles and business strategies have yet to be finalized. Although many transitions of executive positions are underway, each of the businesses involved continues with the development and support of their respective products. These changes should not cause any disruption to the libraries involved with the products and services of ProQuest, Ex Libris, or Innovative. As business integration continues there will likely be additional announcements.
It's important to keep in mind that Clarivate made a substantial investment to acquire ProQuest and has a strong interest in its continued success. Business acquisitions almost always include departures of executives and other personnel. Some departures may coincide with a business change that are not induced by it. How many library workers, for example, choose to retire at the time of a major transition, such as a system migration? The negative aspects of a business transition can be easier to identify than the opportunities. At this early point in the merger, it would be unrealistic to expect organizational and business plans to be fully formed. An optimistic view would anticipate that the strategies, including an emphasis on technology development and community engagement, that have been an important ingredient in the success of Ex Libris and ProQuest, will percolate into Clarivate as it integrates the ProQuest businesses. A less optimistic outcome would take the form of painful reductions that detract from development and support efforts. As the business integration proceeds and the operations of the new organization take shape, time will tell whether optimistic or pessimistic scenarios prevail.