Former Havas Biggies Reunite To Form Digital Media Holding Company, Epperson Named Chief


Don Epperson, a pioneering digital ad executive who helped pave Madison Avenue’s way into programmatic media-buying, is reuniting with Spain’s powerful Rodes family to create a new digital holding company to compete in the rapidly expanding marketplace of “paid, owned and earned” digital media. Epperson initially will serve as executive chairman, but will become CEO of the new company, ISP Digital, in January -- and hopes to make it a major player in the digital advertising services industry.

ISP Digital will operate as a pure-play digital unit of the Rodes family’s Inversiones y Servicios Publicitarios (ISP), whose primary digital assets include stakes in Acceso, SA, Antevenio, and Digilant. The latter began life as Havas’ Adnetik, which is credited as being the first true agency trading desk, before being spun out to outside investors, primarily the Rodes family, which continues to have deep ties to French agency holding company Havas.

ISP Founder Fernando Rodes previously was CEO of Havas, and his brother Alfonso currently is deputy CEO of Havas and CEO of Havas Media Group. The Rodes family’s connections to Havas began when the family sold seminal Spanish media services agency Media Planning, which was founded by patriarch Leopoldo Rodés Castañes in 1978, to Havas. Media Planning became the basis for Havas’ Media Planning Group, or MPG, which has since been rebranded Havas Media.

Epperson’s path first crossed with the Rodes when he sold an early digital media agency that he founded, HookMedia, to Havas, which became the basis for Havas Digital. One of HookMedia’s prized assets was its Artemis system -- a humongous database of online user cookies and behaviors -- that became the basis for Adnetik.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with him again,” said Fernando and brother Gonzalo Rodes said in a joint statement announcing ISP Digital this morning. The Rodes brothers are wealthy and shrewd investors and are expected to leverage their financial clout to make other key acquisitions to fuel the growth of ISP Digital, which begins life with a combined organization of more than 600 people operating in 10 countries in the U.S., Europe and Latin America.

Approximately 40% of ISP Digital’s business currently emanates from the U.S.

“What Fernando and I decided to do was to group a number of his investments / businesses into one holding company so that we could focus on synergies among the different companies,” Epperson explains to Real-Time Daily, emphasizing, “ there are many.”

Since leaving Havas Digital in 2009, Epperson has been an investor in a number of digital start-ups. Most recently, he has served as general partner of Digital Trek, whose primary assets include Enervee (enervee.com), OnWords (onwords.io), Shannon Reed (shannonreed.com), and Simpil.fi (simpli.fi).

Epperson describes ISP Digital as a “hub” for managing “paid, earned and owned media” and says it will focus on leveraging digital media technology and data.

Recommend (8)