Ian Schafer Leaves Engine Group After 6 Months, Says Goodbye to the Agency World Forever

By Patrick Coffee 

Agency founder, thought leader, prolific tweeter and basketball fanatic Ian Schafer has left his job as chief experience officer at Engine Group after six months.

But that’s not all. According to a related Medium post that went live this morning, he’s departing the agency world after more than 15 years … not that he ever really planned to enter that field in the first place.

“I’m excited to take a pause for a second,” he told us this afternoon while noting that he’s fortunate to have such a choice. After describing himself as a builder, disruptor, provocateur and “all those words,” he said, “I’ve done it in one industry, and I have my sights on some others.”

Schafer didn’t tell us which industries those might be. But he did say that he has completely ruled out launching a consultancy or dealing with “the agency part” of advertising (yes, that includes Accenture). In short, he doesn’t want to work with clients any more.

“No consultancy, no agency … everything is new,” he said, adding that the change will be “bittersweet” in some ways. “I never anticipated a career in advertising. But it just kind of happened, I did what I could with it and now I might try to take more control over the situation.”

The Medium post above positions the 2010 sale of Schafer’s digital agency Deep Focus as the first step toward his new chapter, followed by this year’s restructuring and move toward the “data-driven model” that saw him relocate to the larger Engine group.

“Ian is a true visionary in our industry and we are so grateful for his leadership at Deep Focus and, most recently, at Engine Group,” said that company’s CEO Rick Eiserman. “While we are sad to see him go, we’re excited for what’s next for Ian. We thank him for helping to foster our talented leaders, including Ken Kraemer, who serves as CEO of Deep Focus. Engine Group will continue to support growth, diversity and culture within the network in the same way Ian has done for so many years and we wish him all the best.”

Schafer continued: “No, I’m not looking to come back to the agency world. As an aside: I’m not the first nor the last to ever say that, but given all the disruption in the category, I’m sure there will be others.”

We have exactly zero doubt on that point. In the meantime, Schafer will continue to share his thoughts on “advertising, marketing, media, communications, and society & culture, in general.”

Cool. Now let’s discuss whether Deloitte plans to acquire Engine Group.