Top-Level Execs Venture Out To Form VC Company
What if former Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and iCrossing executives came together to form a company offering venture funding, management and guidance, as well as digital marketing services? The services would support everything from search to social media. Well, earlier this month the group did just that, creating Tallwave.
The founding partners are Jeffrey Pruitt, former iCrossing president; Dan Boberg, who previously served as Yahoo professional services vice president; Jen Dorre, former Microsoft paid search advertising sales director; Eric Facas, former senior Google sales executive; and Bob Hobbs, former operations veteran in business development and sales.
Tallwave, the umbrella company, supports two business units: Venture Management and Marketing Services. Think of a venture capital portfolio company with a marketing business unit on the side. Pruitt believes that eventually the marketing arm will spin out as a separate company, with a dotted line connecting itself to the venture capital firm.
The Venture Management portfolio unit helps businesses grow and become sustainable through sales and marketing support, assistance in putting in place an executive and management team, and product development and marketing services.
Boberg, who heads up this portfolio unit, manages the suite of services, from product strategy to competitive and marketing analysis to go-to-market planning. The go-to-market plan isn't only for early stage startups, but can support companies as their second phase of business.
Tallwave charges a fee for services, but as work gets done it takes an equity stake in the company contracting for support to lower service fees. At that time the the fledgling company requiring support becomes a portfolio company.
Pruitt says two companies have made this transition, but declined to reveal their names. He describes one as specializing in SEO tools for business workflow management. The second provides digital coupons for the grocery business.
Those that don't want to give up an equity stake in their company can pay cash for help in creating a business plan, soak up the feedback and support, and be on their way. Pruitt expects Tallwave will take on between four and eight businesses per year.
The Marketing Services group provides business management and consulting, intellectual and investment capital, and marketing and sales support. It aims to help traditional or interactive advertising agencies become more digital. Bundled services start with research and audits for search engine optimization and marketing, social media, and consumer intent. Distribution services include media, optimization and social.
"Some good SEO and SEM firms or creative interactive agencies don't understand the overall integration or have a good starting point," Pruitt says. "Our Internet strategy business will support this."