How did Talkin’ Cloud get its start and where will it go from here? It’s time to look back -– and look forward -– for the IT channel’s most comprehensive cloud computing website.

7. Red Eye Flight: The seeds for Talkin’ Cloud were planted in 2010, when Amy Katz (my business partner at Nine Lives Media) was returning from San Francisco to Boston. During business meetings in San Francisco, Katz had heard from a range of sources who were demanding cloud education for the channel... And they had marketing dollars to back the effort. In classic form –- during a red eye flight -- Katz fired off a short memo to me: “We have to do something about the cloud.”

I disagreed for about two hours. Then we spoke. Then we brainstormed. Then I saw the light. Within five hours of our first discussion, I  agreed with Amy that we needed to launch a cloud website for the channel –- joining our established brands The VAR Guy and MSPmentor.

6. True Believers: As a standalone company, Nine Lives Media (Talkin’ Cloud’s parent) only had two full-time employees –- Amy and me. But we were fortunate to work with a range of contractors –- names like Kim Daniels, Amy Schuler and Traci Verbaarschott, among many others -– who helped build and grow the business.

5. New Parent, More Growth: In August 2011, Penton acquired Nine Lives Media and our brands (Talkin' Cloud, The VAR Guy and MSPmentor). In a blog, I explained how the deal was an acceleration strategy. Behind the scenes, Amy Katz and Penton built a business plan to help grow Talkin’ Cloud’s database, readership and revenue.

4. Here Come Reinforcements: From 2011 until now, Penton has made ongoing investments in Talkin’ Cloud’s team and business. Penton hired talented full-timers on the content team (Charlene O’Hanlon, Jessica Davis, CJ Arlotta, Michael Cusinelli and Dan Kobialka) and the sales team (Debbie Kane and Kelly Danziger). Plus, Penton backed Talkin’ Cloud with marketing and SEO resources to help build and grow our online communities.

3. Investments Pay: Under Penton’s ownership, web traffic and revenues have enjoyed strong double-digit annual growth. As a privately held company, exact figures remain undisclosed. But I can write this with pride: Penton’s channel business -– the former Nine Lives -– has been one of the company’s strongest performers since buying Nine Lives in 2011.

2. Updated Forecast: And now, a new chapter is beginning. Talkin’ Cloud is now part of the broader Penton Technology Group, which includes leading brands like Windows IT Pro (www.windowsitpro.com) and Paul Thurrott’s Windows SuperSite (www.winsupersite.com). Plus, Penton Technology Group is led by VP/Market Leader Steve Veith -– a veteran of multiple startups at CMP Media and Ziff Davis Media. Veith brings a unique blend of large-media strategy and entrepreneurial spirit to the house. And Penton has a team of experts -– including Megan Keller – focused on eLearning and face-to-face conferences like IT/Dev Connections 2014.

1. Thanks To You, And Our Team: Talkin’ Cloud and our sister sites (MSPmentor and The VAR Guy) are now fully staffed with talented sales and content professionals.

With that growth and momentum in mind, Amy and I have each decided to resign and relax for the summer of 2014. Amy’s last day here is today (May 2). My final day is May 9.

The only thing left for me to do is say Thank You -– to our readership, our sponsors and our team. Amy and I have enjoyed every step in the journey together with you.