Verklin, Farella, Lotito Form VFL: Back Hashtag Startup

Three former top agency media chiefs -- David Verklin, Steve Farella and Mike Lotito -- have formed VFL Investment & Advisory to fund and advise promising advertising and media startups and one of their first is #HASHOFF, a company that targets social media influencers based on their use of hashtags.

Terms of the investment were not disclosed, but it was described as a “minority” stake joining other #HASHOFF backers including Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei, former Travelocity CEO Carl Sparks, El Rey Network Vice Chair Scott Sassa, Centro Executive Vice President Charlie Thomas and former Activision CFO Bill Chardavoyne.

“We formed VFL on the belief that technology is changing the ad-marketing industry at the speed of light, and there has never been a more exciting time for entrepreneurs and dreamers in the space,” VFL’s Lotito said in a statement announcing the investment.

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While they did not disclose other portfolio companies, the partnership should attract attention in Madison Avenue’s media circles, because the three long-time agency executives are well known and highly regarded influencers themselves.

Verklin, who is best known for founding Carat’s operations in the U.S. and Canoe Ventures, is also an operating partner of private equity firm Calera Capital.

Farella, a long-time agency media director, founded Targetcast TCM with Audrey Siegel and sold it to MDC Partners, which was reorganized into Assembly, where he continues as chairman. He was named MediaPost's "Media Executive of the Year" for 2014.

Lotito, who left the agency media world to become a top auditor, founding Media IQ and selling it to Procurian (now part of Accenture), is currently founder of [massXspeed] Media & Marketing Advisers.

Founded by Wayin and PicksPal CEO Tom Jessiman and former Yahoo executive Joel Wright in 2014, #HASHOFF boasts fielding campaigns for more than 30 brands to date, including Anheuser Busch, Universal Pictures, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, GameStop and A&E Networks.

5 comments about "Verklin, Farella, Lotito Form VFL: Back Hashtag Startup".
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  1. Michael Lynn from Storandt Pann Margolis, July 13, 2015 at 10:12 a.m.

    Congrats!!!  Sounds like a great (ad)venture and team.  I am especially happy to see Mike Lotito back in the thick of things.  He was my boss when I was with Initiative Media and I consider him one of the best.  Sharp, collaborative and passionate about the media business.  Couldn't have asked for anything more.  Good luck to all. 

  2. Sheldon Senzon from JMS Media, Inc., July 13, 2015 at 10:21 a.m.

    I echo Michael Lynn's comments as well. I'm a big fan of David Verklin as he taught me everything I had to know about Y&R, especially how to use the Ed Ney speaking voice.

  3. Jerry Gibbons from Gibbons Advice, July 13, 2015 at 1:44 p.m.

    Sounds like a great team.  I am particularly happy to see David Verklin back in the game.  He is not only a wicked smart and hard working professional, he is one of the good guys.

  4. Kurt Ohare from ohare & associates, July 14, 2015 at 8:43 a.m.

    It was just a matter of time before we heard from these guys again - and having three such talented and insighful leaders working together has created an industry "A-Team". 

  5. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 14, 2015 at 1:55 p.m.

    Reminds me of a time 25 years ago when I invited Erwin and Mike Ephron to join with me in a venture that became Ephron, Papazian and Ephron. We had a lot of fun for about five years and launched several research services that are widely used today.

    Good luck, guys.

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