More thoughts on the pending sale of the HIMSS Global Conference

In the absence of a real announcement, speculation has been everywhere on the not-yet-done deal between HIMSS and Informa. As reported last week [TTA 27 July], HIMSS will be selling the annual Global Conference to Informa PLC, the largest B2B trade show operator on the Planet Earth. There has been no communication as of this writing from HIMSS to members or chapters, nor any announcements in HIMSS Media. The only corporate confirmation came through Informa PLC’s H1 financial report.

From LinkedIn, Tom Foley, who is the head of GenieMD telehealth and also hosts a podcast called The Virtual Shift via HealthcareNOWRadio and Answers Media Network (headed by Roberta Mullin and Carol Flagg, with whom this Editor worked some years back) had two posts on the pending ‘exclusivity to acquire’. In the later post, he addresses the fact that HIMSS has already been booked by most exhibitors as HIMSS, not as a ‘third-party conference’, and asks for market responses. The earlier post is about the ‘announcement’ and is largely the same as his comment on TTA’s original article. Other than these and spinoff posts from other commenters, Other than we Happy Few, LinkedIn posts have been on the QT and very hush-hush on the subject. Interesting as so many on LinkedIn are HIMSS, HLTH, ViVE and other health conference exhibitors and attendees.

Which leads this Editor to turn to the pointed, yeasty HIStalk where their Editors have dug around HIMSS and turned up some interesting things. This Editor encourages Readers to go to the source articles linked below for their analysis. I will add some points and commentary to each, especially on the Form 990s:

  • Monday Morning Update 7/31/23 speculates on HIMSS’ financials reported in their Form 990 as a 501 (c)(6) non-profit. Their last FY filing is for fiscal 2020. Since HIStalk does not, here is the link to that Form 990 2020 in Candid, a public database on non-profits (the former Guidestar and Foundation Center). On the organization page, click on the Form 990 tab for the first 2020 dropdown, which is for their FY starting 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020. In 2020, HIMSS had total revenue of $28.7 million, a severe drop from 2019 where revenue was over $111.9 million (line 12). Their expenses were over $82.6 million for an operating loss of over $53.9 million. This represents the effects of the cancellation of the 2020 conference, which in 2019 ‘conferences and meetings’ reported $42.8 million in revenue and in 2020 only $1.9 million. Using this information and from Informa’s track record, HIStalk does some calculations on projected sales prices.
  • This Editor also examined the second 2020 dropdown, which is a six-month first-half report from 1 July to 31 December 2020. Revenues rose to $65.1 million with expenses of $42.6 million for an operating profit of $17.9 million. Conference revenue was a tiny $8.7 million but higher than the full year. HIMSS under a joint Health 2.0 banner had a Middle East-based virtual conference in November and HIMSS Media promoted some ‘HIMSS20’ content as digital sessions.
  • News 8/2/23 has reader comments on a HIMSS initiative for vendors called Accelerate, which has apparently been inactive for some time, executive salaries, and speculation on why the delay on the Form 990s.

What remains problematic is HIMSS’ future involvement, if any, in a conference that has been branded as HIMSS for over 50 years and has already been sold into as HIMSS’. How will Informa handle that? Invite HIMSS to sponsor it? Then again, what will be HIMSS’ future as a member-based society without a conference and with a subsidiary, HIMSS Media, that makes money off sponsorships both pre and post and content during the conference? It seems that both buyer and seller would benefit from a shared relationship.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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