Monday, 10 August 2009

Remembering the crazy days as Microsoft sells Razorfish

(By Richard Holway 7.00am Monday 10th Aug 09) According to today’s FT Publicis has spent $530m buying Razorfish from Microsoft. Microsoft had bought Razorfish as part of aQuantive which it acquired in 2007 for $6b.

Razorfish is an advertising agency specialising on digital advertising and content. As such it falls outside our main area of interest. However, it does a huge amount of web design, associated software development and strategic digital marketing consultancy. Also, it was one of those crazy stars of 1999 that will be forever etched on our memory. We called them ‘e-consultancies’ and wrote a ‘Holway’ report on them in 2000. It was one of what was referred to as the “Fab Five” in the US which consisted of Scient, Viant, iXL and MarchFirst. They all either eventually went bankrupt or were rescued at fire sale prices. In Europe, we had our own e-consultancies like Framfab and PixelPark. Everyone of the main consultancies joined in the fun and games. CSC launched Vibe, Andersen Consulting had Launch Centre, CapGemini had DareStep. Our all time favourite was Atomic Tangerine launched by the Stamford Research Centre.

Razorfish IPOed in 1999 when they had revenues of $260m and managed a market value of $6b. When the bubble burst their stock price plunged from its 2000 high of $57 to just $1. That led them to be bought and sold by a number of companies at said fire sale prices until they ended up as part of aQuantive in 2004.

Back in 1996, a year after Razorfish was founded, they launched their slogan “Everything that can be digital will be”. So they certainly didn’t get everything wrong. Indeed, it is fascinating to learn that Razorfish not only survived but has grown into a substantial part of our new digital economy – albeit it not quite at its crazy 2000 valuation!

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