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East Coast Macworld Spat: Charlie Greco Of IDG World Expo Quits In Midst Of Negotiations With Apple

East Coast Macworld Spat: Charlie Greco Of IDG World Expo Quits In Midst Of Negotiations With Apple

by , 6:15 PM EST, February 5th, 2003

[Update: We are being told privately that any suggestion that Charlie Greco's departure has anything to do with negotiations with Apple -- which we suggested in The Mac Observer Spin below -- is, in a nutshell, wrong. The Spin is being left as we published it for posterity's sake, and discussion surrounding the move of Macworld to Boston remains. - Editor]

A rather surprising turn of event in the Macworld Expo East Coast will-they-or-won't-they saga is being reported by the Boston Globe. Hiawatha Bray of the Globe is reporting that Charlie Greco, the famously... shall we say "willful," head of IDG World Expo has quit the company he has led for many, many years.

This is significant as it comes in the middle of what has been termed a billionaire-clash-of-the-egos between Mr. Greco and Apple CEO Steve Jobs concerning the fate of the East Coast Macworld Expo show.

It all started when IDG World Expo announced that the East Coast Mac event was going to move back to Boston after 5 year stint in New York. At that time, Apple issued a terse statement announcing that it would not participate in the Boston show, and may indeed pull out of the last remaining New York show in 2003. Apple specifically said the company "disagreed" with the choice to move the show.

What followed was a bit of tit-for-tat as IDG World Expo said it might bar Apple from the MWSF 2003 show, and then a public kiss-and-make-up from both companies. Apple officially committed to the MWSF 2003 show, and Charlie Greco welcomed the company. The press release from Apple included:

"We'll be there, and we're fully committed to making Macworld San Francisco a great experience for everyone," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO.

"We're thrilled with Apple's enthusiastic support of Macworld San Francisco 2003 and look forward to another record-breaking crowd," said Charlie Greco, president and CEO of IDG World Expo.

MWSF 2003 has come and gone, and MWNY 2003 is fast approaching. Enter today's news from the Boston Globe:

The chief executive of IDG World Expo is quitting his post, in the midst of delicate negotiations to persuade Apple Computer Inc. to attend IDG's Macworld trade show in Boston next year, according to a published report.

In an electronic mail bulletin to its subscribers, Tradeshow Week magazine reported that Charlie Greco is leaving Framingham-based IDG World Expo for another position in the event management industry, and that IDG has begun seeking a replacement.

Officials of IDG World Expo did not return phone calls seeking comment. A spokesperson for Mayor Thomas M. Menino was aware of the report, but said Menino was unavailable for comment.

You can read the full story at the Boston Globe's Web site.

The Mac Observer Spin:

This is big news, at least from a behind-the-scenes standpoint. Charlie Greco, for all intents and purposed is IDG World Expo, and we frankly think his departure is directly related to the negotiations with Apple. Note the complete lack of any proof of that, hence our inclusion of that thought in the Spin, and not the body of the article [Edit - And as noted above, turns out not to be the case - Editor]. Still, this public spat between IDG World Expo and Apple has been a super-high stakes game of poker, and it would seem than Mr. Greco folded.

What remains to be seen is what in the heck happens with Apple and the East Coast show. The company clearly wants the show kept in New York, or perhaps canned altogether. Apple has publicly said that it is reevaluating the way it spends money, and is known to be pleased with the number of people coming into its own Apple Store retail locations during any given week. In other words, it's in the realm of possibilities that Apple considers the East Coast show more expense than it's worth. We hope that is not the case.

The city of Boston would, no doubt, be pleased to make sure the show returns to that city. Macworld Expo is the largest East Coast technology show, and is worth millions to the local economy of whatever city is hosting it. In addition, the show has already been touted as the keystone event at the new convention center that Boston built, in part, as a response to Macworld leaving in the first place. Without Macworld, those facilities could become a boondoggle for Boston, at least for a while, and that would not be good for the politicos in charge. None of that is Apple's problem, but the possibilities of lawsuits are high whatever the outcome.

It's a complex issue, to say the least, and the departure of Mr. Greco from IDG World Expo, substantially ups the wild-card factor.

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