West Coast Interactive Group Poised To Make Its Debut At AdTech-San Francisco

  • by May 20, 2004
Taking a page from the successful launch of 212, the New York metro area's interactive industry networking organization, people in the San Francisco Bay Area are preparing to start their own social and professional networking group, and will sign up potential members next week at the AdTech trade show.

The Bay Area Interactive Group, dubbed "BIG," wants to reclaim San Francisco's rich interactive legacy, and is planning a kickoff event in September. It has a board, four committees, and a Web site that goes live on May 24 (www.sfbig.com).

"The mission is to come together to talk thoughtfully about the challenges that interactive communications and marketing are facing," says John Durham, who serves as president of BIG's board and is president of Pericles Consulting, an online political marketing organization. "We want to network and explore [different topics]; we'll do programming, education, and social events."

Brian Monahan, VP-media director at Universal McCann Interactive, San Francisco, and a BIG board member, says the group will help fill the void created after the dotcom meltdown. The Bay Area, birthplace of so many Internet-related businesses and ideas, had a networking group called the Society for Internet Advancement/SF (SIASF), but "it got so big, so fast, and was such a broad group of people that I think when things kind of went south, it didn't really have a loyal core to keep it going," Monahan says.

Now, as the Internet media sector has picked up--and more importantly, grown up--BIG organizers say there is a need for such a group: "I think we want to remind people that the Bay Area was the birthplace of the interactive boom, and also retains an importance--given that we have all the technology that really fuels all these advancements," Monahan explains.

In addition to Durham and Monahan, the BIG board includes: Susan Bratton, SVP, sales and marketing, Maven Networks; Lynn Ingham, regional sales manager, Crain Communications' Advertising Age; Scot McLernon, EVP, sales and marketing, CBSMarketWatch.com; and Doug Shirley, western sales, BusinessWeek Online Ex-officio members are Michael Caruso, president and founder of SIASF, and David Smith, president and media director, Mediasmith.

BIG board members are securing sponsors for programming, and hope to offer some controversial speakers. "I always like leaving a meeting and getting people to think," Durham says.

At the AdTech show May 24-26, BIG will have a table available to sign up potential members and distribute information. Dues are $50 for individuals; they are $500 for a group of up to 12 people within a company or agency. BIG committees are sponsorship, membership, events/activities, and communications.

Durham said BIG will model itself after 212, as well as similar groups in Boston, Los Angeles, and Seattle. "The energy of what 212 has done is really great," he says.

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