In yet another step to strengthen its foothold in digital hotbed Austin, TX, and continue building the agency of the future, I am excited today to announce that W2O Group will combine Austin-based digital agency, VM Foundry, with our existing multi-office digital practice and local office in Austin to create W2O Digital.
By combining the talent and experience of VM Foundry led by CEO and founder, Jim Eustace, with W2O’s existing expertise and capabilities in the United States, London and within its global independent network of firms, W2O Digital is designed to become an international center of excellence in Austin. It will also serve as a think tank and learning center for W2O’s clients and staff focused on the core digital media disciplines — including analytics, search and agile online content creation — integral to the future of marketing and communications.
To that end, our goal is to become the best external and internal communications consulting company on a global scale for healthcare, technology, consumer and entertainment companies and brands in the next three to five years. To achieve that objective, it is essential we have state-of-the-art innovation-driven digital expertise and capacity, particularly because of the ever-increasing transition of the Fortune 1,000′s media spending to online, mobile and social media. Adding the fire power and digital chops of a company such as VM Foundry is exactly what we need to stay competitive in the future.
The VM Foundry deal follows several recent key hires, investments and other moves designed to strengthen W2O Group companies’ ability to partner with its clients across the consumer, corporate, technology and healthcare industries on integrated, holistic digital communications strategies to address and solve a myriad of business issues. Earlier this year, W2O Group announced the acquisition of Austin-based Big Data company Ravel, a partnership with leading video entrepreneur Tim Bahr in a new analytics-driven online video venture called NextWorks, and the creation of the W2O Group/Newhouse Center for Social Commerce with Syracuse University focusing on imparting industry-leading skills and acumen to students, professors, staff and clients in the emerging field of social commerce.
Austin is a hub of talent and innovation in digital and online media, and we have focused investment here since W2O Group President, Bob Pearson, started our office less than four years ago after leaving Dell. We are focused on further expanding operations here with an eye toward becoming an important cornerstone in Austin’s thriving local economy, going from 0 to 60 people from inception till now, and to more than 100 by 2014, which should make W2O one of the larger agencies of its type in this important city and region.
Jim Eustace, along with Bob Pearson, W2O Group CFO, Tony Esposito, and Managing Directors, Dave Mihalovic and Jamie Peck – both leaders from digital powerhouse Rosetta (now part of Publicis) – will form the leadership team for W2O Digital. In addition to flawlessly executing digital and web properties for its clients, W2O Digital will serve as a hub to accelerate the growth of the firms’ big data sciences products and services and build on its existing proprietary offerings, including the Influencer Meme and Muse, Conversation Blueprint and real-time media dashboards.
Also integral to the growth and emergence of W2O’s Digital Practice are Paul Dyer from MarketWire/Sysomos; Colin Foster who ran the global online/digital group of Novartis AG; Greg Matthews from the digital group at Humana; Aaron Strout from Powered/Dachis Group and author of Location-Based Marketing for Dummies; Tim Marklein, formerly head of Analytics & Measurement at WeberShandwick; Chuck Hemann from Edelman Digital; and now in addition to VM Foundry founder Jim Eustace, newer hires Dave Mihalovic and Jamie Peck from Rosetta, now a division of Publicis; Stephan Merkens formerly of Moxie and Sapient; and Spike Jones, author of Brains on Fire.