David Carlick, Poppe Tyson's top interactive executive, stunned the agency last week by resigning to join a start-up company.
Mr. Carlick, exec VP-interactive business development, said he would join PowerAgent, San Mateo, Calif., and that the company's business plan would be revealed in a few months. He will remain on Poppe's board of directors and will serve the agency as a consultant.
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The biggest blow comes in morale. An insider said people in the Mountain View, Calif., office where Mr. Carlick worked were devastated by the news. Poppe recently postponed a planned initial public offering for the second time. It also laid off about six employees at the office, insiders said.
Mr. O'Daly expressed confidence that Poppe's growth won't be deterred.
"David has been kind of an evangelist for us, leading our technology group in a visionary way," Mr. O'Daly said.
Mr. Carlick joined the agency four years ago this month, when Poppe acquired 12-year-old Carlick Advertising, a specialist in database marketing. Since then Poppe has remade itself as an international provider of interactive marketing services, through Poppe Tyson Interactive and DBM Group.
Poppe generated about 40% of its $30 million in '96 revenue from interactive work.
Mr. Carlick owns 1.5% of Poppe, as does Mr. O'Daly. Bozell owns 93% and other executives own the rest.
"My greatest contributions to companies tend to be in the early stages," Mr. Carlick said, explaining his departure. "Poppe is a mature contender in this interactive arena."
Mr. Carlick defined PowerAgent as an "early-stage startup with significant backers." Over several years it has developed a technology that is now being beta-tested. Poppe's parent, Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon & Eckhardt, may buy a stake in PowerAgent, he added.
"I will be in charge of building relationships with the advertising and media community," Mr. Carlick said. "One of the strongest relationships we'll start with is Poppe Tyson."
Mr. O'Daly confirmed Poppe will have a strategic alliance with PowerAgent.
"We're always interested in new technologies, and this is something very interesting to us," he said.
Copyright March 1997, Crain Communications Inc.