DorobekINSIDER: Is that a ‘for sale’ sign at market research firm Input?

Thursday - 4/1/2010, 2:00am EDT

Input, the market research firm, has opened the door to potential buyers, insiders and industry sources say.

While the privately held company has been in talks before, nothing panned out.

Input officials had no comment noting that Input is a privately held company and therefore, they tend not to comment on these kinds of topics. But insiders did note that “INPUT is a strong performer in a hot sector and naturally is an attractive asset.”

Input board chairman Peter Cunningham has held sales talks before, but nothing ever came of it. But Cunningham might believe now is the right time.

The shop talk comes after media giant Bloomburg purchased Eagle Eye Publishers, a much smaller market research firm, as marketing guru Mark Amtower reported. And, in fact, Bloomburg is seeming to growing its government focus. Last month, Bloomberg announced that Kevin Sheekey is rejoining the company as chairman of the government-oriented division. He will also oversee government relations and communications. It is unclear exactly what Bloomberg plans to do in the government market, but FishbowlDC has reported that the company is looking to take on the other so-called Hill rags.

I can’t imagine why one would want to jump into that already crowded market, which already has Politico, Roll Call, Congressional Quarterly, The Hill… and others like, say, the Washington Post. There is, however, much less of a focus on the business of government market. Washington Technology covers the business of government IT, but there are few others. The Washington Post has dramatically reduced its business coverage, and the Washington Business Journal, which seems like the other logical contender, has not really jumped into that space.

Who might be potential buyers?

Aside from those, 1105 Media’s Neal Vitale, owner of the 1105 Government Information Group, had said publicly that he saw market research as an important part of a government media organization to add it’s print, Web and events businesses.

Government Executive’s research and “thought leadership” division, the Government Business Council, has been doing more business with research, but it is unclear how much GovExec’s parent, Atlantic Media, is interested in investing beyond its current holdings.

Some Input facts from the company’s Web site:

INPUT helps buyers buy and vendors sell in the government marketplace. We are committed to promoting collaboration between government and industry for the benefit of all.

Year Founded: 1974, privately held

Headquarters: Reston, Virginia

# of Employees: 160

Stay tuned.