Publicis.Sapient Names New CEO as the 28-Year-Old Razorfish Brand Comes to an End

By Patrick Coffee Comment

The reorganization of Publicis.Sapient has finally happened.

As part of its earnings call today, Publicis Groupe announced that Nigel Vaz will become the CEO of Publicis.Sapient, with predecessor Alan Wexler moving into the chairman role.

Vaz was formerly CEO of Publicis Sapient International in the EMEA and APAC regions.

The release goes on to state, “As part of this news, Vaz is also leading a rebranding of Publicis Sapient, which will see the company come together to create a single unified brand laser-focused on combining creatives, technology, research and analysis in order to provide a comprehensive service to clients in the digital business transformation (DBT) space.”

The subtext here confirms Adweek’s July 2018 report regarding Publicis’ plans to fold the 28-year-old Razorfish organization (which had since merged with Sapient) into Publicis.Sapient, which is one of the holding company’s four larger “solutions hubs.” Publicis never confirmed the story despite the fact that the Razorfish Wikipedia page currently reads that it “announced plans to sunset the SapientRazorfish brand and roll the remaining employees under the Publicis.Sapient organization.”

The description continues: “By fusing our experience, capabilities, customer experience and viewpoint, along with innovative engineering, within a culture renowned for problem-solving creativity, Publicis Sapient will be able to leverage its skillsets in management consulting and other emerging areas such as data and AI to deliver an authentic customer-centric approach to its clients, helping them digitally transform in the process. This people-centric approach to digital business transformation will continue to evolve alongside the preferences of clients and their consumers.”

In a statement, Vaz said he is “honored to take on the role of Publicis Sapient CEO at this time” and that he will work to integrate its “consulting, industry expertise, experience and engineering capabilities at scale while enhancing the culture and values, which have made us an integral business transformation partner since our inception”

As the July story noted, this merger has been going on for some time and went through multiple delays, as many such large-scale projects tend to do. Publicis has also made several efforts to streamline the organization—the July story also noted triple-digit layoffs, and multiple parties reached out to us after it went live to state that the ultimate number of U.S. employees affected was around 200.

It should be noted that SapientRazorfish employed more than 12,000 at the time, and the new entity includes 20,000 across 35 offices around the world.

According to sources close to the organization, more cuts came in recent weeks and primarily affected the creative side of the business.

A Publicis.Sapient spokesperson declined to comment beyond the release.

Razorfish came to life in 1990 as one of the original digitally-oriented agencies. Microsoft acquired the company in 2007 and then sold it to Publicis two years later for an estimated $530 million in cash and stock, with Razorfish and Sapient becoming one in late 2017. As of this moment, the RazorfishSapient website still exists, but that will not be the case for much longer.

Publicis missed its earnings goals for the final quarter of 2018, and while Arthur Sadoun said the results were “outstanding” given the “challenging” environment, he acknowledge that this quarter would make for a “bumpy ride.”

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