Digitas Shakes Up Management

With its stock price in the single digits, Internet and direct marketing firm Digitas has made a series of management changes it claims will help spur growth and global expansion.

Michael Goss, executive vice president and chief financial officer, has announced his resignation. Kathy Biro, one of the chief architects of the company’s rapid rise in the late 1990s, has resigned as a director and is turning over the president’s mantle to chief operating officer Michael Ward.

In a prepared statement, Digitas chairman and CEO David Kenny said: “As the organization’s needs mature and as we extend our reach to new clients and new geographies, Michael [Ward] and I will be working closely together to guide its growth.”

Biro will retain her position as vice chair of Digitas, but her day-to-day role will be reduced as she devotes more time to industry commentary and teaching.

“We will continue to depend on her insight and intellect as she concentrates even more on intellectual capital development,” Kenny said of Biro, in the same statement.

Goss is joining Bain Capital, where he worked from 1986-89. This time around, he will become chief financial officer/-managing director. Jeff Cote, a Digitas senior vice president, will serve as interim CFO, and is being considered for the permanent position.

The Boston firm also named Greg Johnson to the new post of executive vice president/global client delivery, where he will have a hand in overseeing all services, with responsibilities for global quality control. Johnson will continue as chief creative officer for the time being and he said there is “no hurry” to name a replacement. Johnson is currently “working on a plan” for the future of the creative department, he said.

Though sources characterized the moves as an effort to find the right managerial mix to help the company shake off the interactive business malaise, Digitas executives insisted that the firm’s disappointing Wall Street performance had no impact on the shuffle.

“I would gladly have stayed at Digitas if not for this opportunity at Bain,” Goss said.

Added Biro: “This is more an issue of having management depth and lots of people who want to do different sorts of things.”

Despite new-business success and rising revenue, the company’s stock traded on the Nasdaq exchange at $5-6 of late, down from a 52-week high of $40. Digitas claimed 1999 revenue of $187 million. © Dan Wilby