Golden Gate is a global goal

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Geoffrey deweaver, an ebullient Connecticut native with an Australian passport, was living in Taiwan and running the global Acer computer account from Leo Burnett Co.'s Taipei office when a phone call came "out of the blue" from Kate Webster, a high-profile local headhunter in San Francisco.

Three months after that call, he works in a new, entirely wireless office in a former Chinese restaurant in San Francisco, where he is managing director of Direct Partners, an Omnicom Group direct marketing agency.

"Asia is a fast, vibrant place, but in terms of vibrant business, there is no other place in the world that comes near San Francisco," said Mr. DeWeaver, 38. "San Francisco is light years ahead of the rest of the world in interactive marketing. Because of the Internet, New York isn't the center of the world like it used to be."

FAR FROM ALONE

Mr. DeWeaver is far from alone in his enthusiasm for the city's lifestyle and new-economy career opportunities. San Francisco is only the 8th-largest ad market in the world. But it has emerged as a hot spot on the international career circuit, especially for high fliers moving up the ladder after international assignments in Asia. Many of the companies they worked with in Asia have their U.S. operations based in the West Coast city. And San Francisco has long been a coveted posting for advertising executives who want to sharpen their technology and new-media skills.

ASIAN CLIQUE

Mr. DeWeaver recently met another new arrival from Asia for a drink in one of San Francisco's Irish pubs. British-born Chinese Steven Shek, previously ad director at The Economist in Hong Kong, is now a sales director at economist.com in San Francisco. Mr. Shek, in turn, ran into Ruth Stubbs, another ex-Hong Kong media executive, just two days after she arrived in San Francisco in July to open an office for international online agency Media Contacts (see story, Page 44).

The Asian clique has been further swelled by two advertising sales executives from Singapore's regional media hub. Earlier this year, Billy Kelly left CNBC Asia for nbci.com in San Francisco and Michael Dance was promoted within Business Week to VP-sales, western region.

SAN FRANCISCO STINT

Some international adpeople expect to move to New York eventually but are squeezing in a San Francisco stint first. Brett Stewart, a 39-year-old Australian, launched Young & Rubicam's Media Edge in Singapore as managing director but jumped at the chance three months ago to become senior VP-media director at McCann-Erickson Worldwide in San Francisco. After working on the Compaq Corp., Citibank and Ericsson business in Asia, San Francisco is "the next stepping stone in my career growth," he said.

Ryosuke Shimizu moved to San Francisco in June from Tokyo, where he was an account manager in media planning at McCann-Erickson Worldwide, because he believes Asia's approach to advertising will soon become more like that of the U.S. "I wanted to come here to learn strategic thinking skills," said Mr. Shimizu, who works on the business-to-business portion of the Microsoft account. "Japan is behind."

Mr. Shimizu said there is a "fundamental difference" in the way advertising is practiced in Japan, where agencies are regarded as vendors rather than partners.

SOFTER SIDE

Most of San Francisco's new arrivals are drawn to the softer side of the city, including a more relaxed lifestyle than found either on the East Coast or in Asia.

And while most Bay area residents grumble about sky-high housing costs, Mr. Shimizu happily points out that a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco rents for "only" $1,400, compared to the $1,000 his friends back in Tokyo pay for a minuscule studio apartment with a "non-existent" kitchen.

Contributing: Alice Z. Cuneo in San Francisco.

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