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.
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.