With $2.5 million in first-round venture funding and following the acquisition of five independent Internet specialty firms in the past six months, Emeryville, Calif.-based Internet services firm Wirestone today opened for business.
Firms involved in the merger to create Wirestone include Priscomm, Costa Mesa, Calif.; LiveWire Interactive, Seattle; Boise, Idaho-based Digital Effects and Mediaphex; and Talaria Research, Sacramento, Calif. Together, the five companies generated $20 million in revenue last year, effectively ranking Wirestone among the top 40 interactive marketers in the U.S., according to Adweek.
"We'll leverage the expertise and creativity of numerous professionals who are passionate about catering to mid-market companies," said Chris Running, president and CEO of Wirestone. Each of the merged companies will operate as a division within Wirestone. The former CEOs will function as vice presidents.
"Each of these companies has one or more core competencies," said Running. "Typically, they had a tendency to focus on one of them."
The company, which employs 74 and intends to acquire another 10 to 13 agencies with $50 million in revenue by the end of the year, will brand itself as a one-stop shop for e-business strategy, marketing, technology and creative design solutions.
"Clients who wish to pursue an Internet initiative soon realize that they need more than a Web site," said Running. "They need a strategy and they need a front-end design. They also need brochures, PR and collateral to bring projects together."
Running said Wirestone has a mandate to grow quickly in order to capture market share in an expanding, yet volatile business.
Target clients include dot.com startups, the business-to-business market and traditional bricks-and-mortar companies seeking an Internet strategy. "Much of our growth is going to come from acquiring people," he said. "But we want to balance our client base so we're not too heavily swayed on the dot.com side."
With no plans for a centralized control process or layoffs, Running said Wirestone intends to let the entrepreneurial spirit that guided many smaller companies continue.
In addition to establishing offices in major metropolitan areas and abroad, Wirestone will pursue bricks-and-mortar establishments in secondary markets that are looking for an Internet initiative, including Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Denver. "We don't want to get caught with our pants down," he said.
Although Wirestone's current roster of clients include brand names such as Adobe, Fujitsu Interactive, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, Sony, TEAC America and The Nature Conservancy, among others, Running said the company will target small- to mid-sized companies.
"We intend to focus on [the] type of client that is sort of below the radar screen [in terms of size of campaigns]," said Running. "Most these projects are under $2 million, which is [less than] most of the major players want to deal with."