Matt Freeman, former CEO at Omnicom Group's Tribal DDB, is heading to Interpublic Group's Mediabrands unit.
Freeman, 40, was most recently CEO of ad network Betawave. He will serve as CEO of Mediabrands Ventures, a new unit built to oversee 16 digital specialist marketing companies in the Mediabrands portfolio, including search firm Reprise Media, mobile shop Ansible, demand-side ad platform Cadreon, media barter Orion Trading and locally focused Geomomentum. The unit also includes IPG's Emerging Media Lab.
"My job is to take these diversified assets, scale them globally and invent new ones," said Freeman. "For me, it's a great combination. There's scale there and there's also a very entrepreneurial edge to it, which is a great combination for me."
The new unit is in some ways a return to the past for IPG, which in 2007 created the Futures Marketing Group under Bant Breen to manage Reprise Media, the Emerging Media Lab and its investments in digital media companies. IPG ended up dismantling FMG.
One of Freeman's first tasks is finding new leadership at Reprise, where founding partners Josh Stylman and Peter Hershberg left as 2010 began after running the shop for seven years. "It was time to do something else," Hershberg said.
"We're actively recruiting a new CEO," added Freeman.
Freeman said his mandate is to "build, buy and modify" to help IPG develop capabilities in fast-growing areas like search, mobile and digital retail.
"Matt will be an essential player of our leadership team and becomes the necessary catalyst for our global expansion," said Mediabrands CEO Nick Brien.
Freeman departed Tribal DDB in June 2008 for the top post at what was then GoFish. He renamed the company Betawave, recapitalized it with $22.5 million in funding and focused it on providing brands with attention-based advertising on a network reaching 31 million people through sites like Meez, Miniclip and Shutterfly. He stepped down as CEO of Betawave after 18 months, saying at the time that he wanted to run a larger company.
"I spent the last 18 months having the agency world as my customer," Freeman said. "It inspired a lot of ideas about how we could evolve the agency world. It's a very different vantage: running an agency [compared] to trying to pitch an agency."
Freeman was a founder of Tribal DDB Worldwide in 1998 as the digital arm of DDB. It has since grown into a global network with 45 offices, 1,500 employees and $250 million in sales.
See also: "Reprise Media Expands Overseas"