By Laura Rich

Last month, Michael Golden was plucked from his position as vice president of Bates Interactive, where he had toiled in relative obscurity (not to mention hyper-productivity)

on a score of Web sites. His move from the Cordiant-owned global agency to upstart Organic Online, to establish the San Francisco shop’s New York office, touched off an industry-wide buzz of “Who is Mike Golden?” And what will he and the seven other former Bates-Interactive staffers joining him at Organic be up to?

A lawyer by training, the 27-year-old Golden is regarded as a skilled Web strategist and deft client handler. Like Organic’s emphasis on providing end-to-end solutions (tech talk for controlling the entire process of site-building), Golden led a unit for Bates that could support all aspects of an interactive project, including hosting and coding, two areas most large agencies choose to outsource.

Among the 20-odd sites Golden developed at Bates were ones for general agency clients, including Footlocker and Perrier, as well as assignments from financial services firms like T. Rowe Price and Chase Manhattan Bank. A site for Cunard Line Cruises shows off Golden’s trademark: a set of templates that can customize information on the site for specific users, based on their needs and requests.

” ‘My Yahoo!’ uses the same approach,” says Golden. “We were quietly doing that before” the user-driven Yahoo! service was launched, he notes. “In order not to do brochureware, you have to personalize content and engage in information architecture. Which means that the right people see the right content.”

His insistence on getting information into the right hands stems from his own startup days. After graduating from Villanova with a law degree, Golden founded Quest Technologies, which created network software to transfer documents in law firms. He never planned to become an attorney. “I was always entrepreneurial,” he says.

At Bates, the sheer size of the agency-and the uncertainty over its eventual demerger from Cordiant-kept him from moving as fast as he could. “I [had] been screaming forever for a vision,” he says. “I knew we were getting six months behind. That’s a death sentence.”

With Organic, which has backing from Omnicom Group, Golden will have another chance to build from the ground up. Working out of temporary space (his Manhattan apartment) on clients like Colgate, Golden declares “my team has been battle-tested. Now we’re going to push the industry forward.” °

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