Being a big fish among many breeds
With your some dozen purchases, why is Razorfish any different from your rivals that go on acquisition binges and wind up being called a roll-up?
All of (our acquisitions) are strategic. Every single deal we've done has been to add a skill set or to add a specific talent level that we weren't able to hire. It's all about hire or acquire, and I don't really care which way we do it but we need the talent.
And I still contend that in the end, we (have an) organic growth
strategy. We have one brand.
We have one leader. We have one product, one focus. We have one vision. There aren't multiple brands. There aren't multiple structures. It's one structure and one way of doing business. We're not trying to pretend we're something else. We've always been doing what we've been doing.
I don't buy into the whole acquisition roll-up component. You know you see a bunch of bankers trying to get into the services business. They're not passionate about the creation of the digital future. They're not focused on making the world change. They're focused on making money. We make a lot of money. But the passion and where we're going is what this company is all about.
Speaking of money, you've made a lot. Has it changed you at all?
I haven't cashed in, so it's paper money. We've done really well and I'm the same guy I was five years ago. I still live in my one-bedroom apartment. I walk to work. My life isn't all that different. I still put my shoes on one at a time.
I don't have an extravagant lifestyle. We didn't get in this to get super-mega-wealthy and then go ride around the world on a yacht. We got in this because we like to do it. I like coming in to work everyday. I love making digital media that changes peoples' lives. I love moving Schwab from 12 in the Gomez rankings to number one. I love building Road Runner's cable modem service. I love re-engineering what NBC online is going to look like. I love redesigning the "Go" logo.
Do you fear losing your company culture as the place grows?
No. Our culture is only going to get stronger as we get bigger. It's not going to be diluted. It's going to get tighter and faster and stronger as we continue to bring in the kind of people--the innovators, the insane, crazy people who love to make this stuff happen. I used to talk to my people about creating the dream team. Now that we're doing that we've got this dream team of people and the energy is scary. It's so focused.
What's the biggest job you didn't get that you really wanted to
I don't know--we don't lose very often. When we want it bad enough and it's perfect for us we're going to hammer it. I'm not going to concede any
How's business at Razorfish Studios, your corporate division that focuses on digital media and
It's a completely separate company owned by the senior executives--myself being the major holder.
It's absolutely a serious business, and you'll probably see a lot of activity
this year with Razorfish. It's been the place where we've been able to have fun. But it's a different business. It's a content
business that we keep separate.
Can you talk about your expansion in the broadband market?
Making rich media is absolutely one of our crucial skill sets. When AOL Time Warner is distributed over cable modems, the experience has to be much richer than what you experience on the 14.4 modem.
We create the brand identity for all the major television networks and a lot of the show packaging that goes on say (the sitcom) "Friends" or NBC or MSNBC, Court TV or PBS or ESPN's X-Games--all the graphic identity. The way those shows look and the way those shows will be translated onto PCs, TVs, and PalmPilots and cell phones--we'll be responsible for that.
How did the recent acquisitions of systems integrator I-Cube and interactive agency Spray go?
Done. We have 90-day integration plans.
Did people leave after the acquisitions?
No one left when we acquired them. We don't have people leave. This is a company where people stay. They're all still here because we have the kind
of culture that creates people who want to innovate, that want to change the world, and it's a place where people want to work. We're a talent magnet. We draw talent here. We're not losing people, we're turning away people.
When you look five years down the road, could you name your top five competitors?
Who is going to be up there with Razorfish? I think Sapient might make it. Maybe. I'll argue we're six or seven generations ahead of any of our competitors. Companies we may bump into? Maybe IBM. I don't think Scient or Viant. They have serious strategic flaws right now. So does Proxicom. So