Digital Planet, a Los Angeles-based new media shop beset by rumors of financial woes, has emerged with a new, high-profile Web client--and a likely new owner.
Last week, the firm relaunced Barbie.com, the Web site for the El Segundo, Calif.-based Mattel's famed fashion doll. Additional redesign installments are to come over the next six months. Digital Planet officials said it beat out finalists Organic Online and Ogilvy & Mather Interactive in a Mattel review late last year.
The win brings to two the number of high visibility clients on DP's roster. The shop also handles Web work for the United States Postal System.
New media sources said DP's short roster of clients has had executives out looking for a buyer for at least nine months. Digital Planet chairman and chief executive officer Joshua Greer confirmed the agency's search for a new owner, adding that it was in buyout discussions with Box Top/iXL, a $60 million new media agency jointly based in Los Angeles and Atlanta.
Kevin Wall, Box Top chief executive, said that a deal was likely to take place in the near future. The price tag is thought to be in the $5 million to $10 million range. The shop has some 35 employees working on USPS, Barbie.com, some Intel projects and AllState Insurance.
Launched in 1995 as an interactive services shop, Digital Planet is probably best known in new media circles for early financial backing from Intel and Creative Artists Agency, as well as for "Madeline's Mind," a Web soap created in conjunction with MCA/Universal. The shop took a sharp turn away from interactive marketing services in 1996 toward content development, which is thought to have wreaked financial havoc on the company. DP returned to providing agency-like services last year.
"Creating content for consumers is the most fun," said Greer. "But we've found that something like Madeline's Mind isn't practical yet."
Wall said that DP would be "acquired by us and integrated into our company." Box Top is a 140-person shop whose clients include Frito-Lay, Guess Jeans, Playboy and Universal Pictures.