Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Amazing Business Success of West

The Twin Cities' weekly newspaper profiles the business success of West Publishing: Erin Carlyle, Westlaw rises to legal publishing fame by selling free information, City Pages, April 28, 2009. Here's some startling business data:
[West's] operating profit margin really impresses: At a whopping 32.1 percent, West outpaces that of tech giants like Google (19.4 percent), Amazon (3.4 percent), and eBay (20.8 percent).

* * *

Last year, Thomson acquired Reuters, the financial information and news firm. In its first year as a single entity, the combined company earned $11.7 billion in total revenue—more than any American-held printing and publishing company, including Gannett, McGraw Hill, and the New York Times.
The article respects the company's business acumen and points out some of West's strengths -- a niche market with growth potential, adding value to the raw material (indexing, proofreading, annotating cases and statutes), effective search capabilities.

As a customer (or the employee of a customer), I respect the company's products but can't help wishing the profit margin weren't so impressive.

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