Posted by Susan Scrupski on July 31, 2006
I met my deadline early, so I will post some commentary here on the LBI/Framfab announcement. What we have here is a post-dot-com era rollup strategy. LBI International is now, unquestionably, the largest interactive agency in Europe. Robert (Pickering) told me in an interview recently that LBI is roughly 10x larger than the number 2 player in Europe and that the company is #3 in the world and probably #4 if you include Sapient. His plan to grow the company is still expanding. Margins have improved about 20% a quarter for the past six quarters and still moving up. Utilization is in the 50% range with a lot of opportunity for improvement. Overall the company has been growing 40% a year– organically 20% a year. With cash on the balance sheet and zero debt, the company share price has steadily been improving over 49% a year.
This is what Robert does. He’s a financial guy. He’s got the stret cred of a turnaround CEO. He did it at Philips global IT division, Origin B.V. and he’s doing it here. The question is, however, has this industry matured enough to withstand the weight of a rollup strategy? In web 1.0 the first to crumble were the rollups– iXL, USWeb/CKS, Luminant, etc. I may be off base here, but recognizing that these firms, interactive agencies, are largely creative services firms, there may be the same recurring issues. Creative people don’t always mesh; creative people are not a labor pool. Maybe the Europeans are cooler than Americans afterall, and they can “mashup” a culture. Any American who has spent time in Europe or the U.K. in a pub during World Cup season would be hard-pressed to believe that. I guess time will tell.
Posted in Interactive Agencies, Web Integrators | Comments Off on Musings on LBI International AB announcement
Posted by Susan Scrupski on July 31, 2006
I don’t have time to comment on this today because I’m on deadline. It’s worth posting the press release info, however. I will come back post-deadline with comments.
From the Press Release:
LBI International AB, Europe’s leading digital and interactive agency is born
With today’s registration of the merger between Framfab and LB Icon the leading digital and interactive agency in Europe has been born. The combined entity will adopt its new name, LBI International AB, as of August 1. In addition to the existing listing on the Stockholm Stock Exchange, LBI International AB will as from August 1, be listed on Eurolist by Euronext in Amsterdam. The new company symbol (ticker) on both exchanges will be “LBI”.
The Swedish Companies Registration Office (the “SCRO”) has today registered the merger between Framfab AB and LB Icon AB. The SCRO has also registered the issue of 35,634,133 new Framfab shares which will be used as merger consideration where LB Icon shareholders receive one Framfab share for each LB Icon share. The new shares are expected to be registered on LB Icon shareholders’ accounts on August 1. Following the registration of the merger and the new issue of shares, Framfab has in total 60,522,946 shares outstanding.
The registration of the merger and the new issue completes the merger process from a legal perspective and as a result LB Icon has been dissolved. LB Icon will be delisted from the Stockholm Stock Exchange and Eurolist by Euronext in Amsterdam as of August 1. The last day of trading in LB Icon shares on the Stockholm Stock Exchange was July 26 and the last day of trading in LB Icon shares on Eurolist by Euronext in Amsterdam is today, July 31.
On July 13 Framfab held an extraordinary shareholders meeting where it was resolved that the parent company Framfab AB, subject to the registration of the merger, would change its name to LBI International AB. With today’s registration of the merger such condition has been fulfilled and as of August 1, the merged entity currently known as Framfab AB will be renamed LBI International AB. The completion of the merger process between Framfab and LB Icon and the related name change to LBI International AB marks the creation of the leading digital and interactive agency in Europe.
Posted in Interactive Agencies, Web Integrators | Comments Off on LBIcon/Framfab merger closed today
Posted by Susan Scrupski on July 27, 2006
I recently emailed my friend Phil Wainewright that “I’m so excited [about this new sector], I feel like a Pointer Sister.” I’ve been swamped with the research and reporting for this GITS story on how SaaS and Web 2.0 applications could potentially disintermediate the billable consultant. The interviews are facscinating. Kicking off with Dion Hinchcliffe, a brilliant guy, and someone who is clearly blazing the trail in the enterprise 2.0 space, I’ve been trying to absorb the full impact of changes ahead for what Hinchcliffe refers to in his writings as the “inversion of control” coming down the pike as a result of the next evolutionary, and perhaps revolutionary, paradigm shift in our beloved tech sector.
So many story ideas and initiatives are flowing out of this piece, I’m eager to file the story to get onto the next one. Unfortunately, GITS won’t permit me anymore to post the stories online here. You’ll have to subscribe to the newsletter to read it. Other interviews in the piece include: Phil Wainewright, Rod Boothby, Jeff Kaplan, Peter Cervieri of ScribeStudio, Josh Greenbaum, Dan Gisolfi from IBM’s Internet Emerging Technology group, and Amy Wohl, longtime analyst. OH, almost forgot, Joe Kraus, CEO, JotSpot.
Posted in Consultants, Enterprise 2.0, Next Net, SaaS, Web 2.0 | Comments Off on The Long Tail of a Short Tale
Posted by Susan Scrupski on July 16, 2006
Yesterday, I notice I had a flurry of activity on the blog (a blip really, in blogosphere terms, but a flurry in relative terms for my usual activity) with a reader coming in from a search for “Sapient Blog.” I would like to cover the Interactive Agency sector fairly aggressively, but my overtures to this market (other than Sapient, actually) have fallen flat. Remember, most of the firms I covered in my 2000 report have vanished. The survivors are very different firms today, even Sapient, for that matter. The firm I have the best relationship with– LBIcon— is a continent away and not a major player in the US. All that being said, it looks like I’m left standing behind the velvet ropes on this private club. So, it’s like I told a newly crowned Dick Brown taking over at EDS who chortled at me, “Be good to me Susan!” I told him he had to earn it. I’m now on the other side of that hubris and will have to earn the respect of the IA community before they’ll confide in me and allow me into their party.
In the absence of focusing on the IA sector, I’ve turned my attention to the SaaS market and the budding enterprise 2.0 sector. I’m finding developments and discussions in this sector extremely interesting and addicting. I’ll be writing a story for GITS for the next two weeks on how the prospect of new enterprise SaaS applications may stand to disintermediate the billable consultant. It has major implications for the consulting and systems integration markets over time. I’m looking forward to what I discover in the reporting.
I have managed to reconnect with more of the IT Services fraternity. Jeff Kaplan, whom I’ve always had a lot of respect for, has turned his attention to SaaS. I also had a nice lunch recently with Vinnie Mirchandani whose blog is listed in my blogroll.
*See post May 17 for headline reference.
Posted in Enterprise 2.0, General IT Services, Interactive Agencies, SaaS, Web 2.0 | Comments Off on Making up Another Mind*
Posted by Susan Scrupski on July 13, 2006
I received a nudge from a reader I respect who suggested I need to post more regularly to be taken seriously.
“To be perceived as a blogger with time sensitive market insights, you need to have more frequent postings .”
Ouch. The good news and bad news about blogging is unlike old school print magazine column-writing, you can see in real time how many people are reading your blog, where they’re coming from, what they searched to find you, and of course, who’s commenting and the quality of the comments.
The A-list tech bloggers are doing a phenomenal job beating some of the major media to the punch with major developments. There’s even a bit of a sea change going on in the analyst world with leading independent bloggers usurping the stranglehold on influence that the leading industry analyst firms have always wielded. See this story in InformationWeek.
When I told a friend I had all but abandonned the blog of late, he recoiled,
“Abandoned the services market– no way! There’s too much action there!”
Personally, I don’t know how the A-list bloggers do it. Take one of my favorite bloggers, Rod Boothby, who happens to also be a senior guy at E&Y. I’m interviewing Boothby for a story I’m doing right now for GITS, and he told me he’ll be wrapped up with a client all next week. So in addition to some sophisticated management consulting day-job work, he’ll squeeze in my interview (and I’m probably one of many), keep up with everything else going on in the blogosphere, and keep posting terrific content on his blog. It’s superhuman.
Until I learn how to manage my time better, I’ve opted to accept an offer to VLOG– a video blog with a large outsourcing community. Details are coming. I’ll keep you posted. In the VLOG, I’ll be reporting on news, trends, adds/moves/changes in the outsourcing market, some rumors and general musings.
Posted in Consultants, General IT Services | Comments Off on My Bad (blog and blogging habits)