i.20: USWeb/CKS's Robert Shaw

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Robert Shaw expected to put his newly built 60-foot Bertram boat to good use after leaving Oracle Corp. last year.

"I thought I was going fishing for a year," he says. "I only made it 21/2 months."

That's because Mr. Shaw signed on as CEO of what is now USWeb/CKS one year ago today, and he's been too caught up in the Net to think much about fish.

"There will be time for that later," he says. "This is too much fun."

USWeb Corp. employed about 1,200 people when Mr. Shaw came aboard on the eve of its purchase of CKS Group last December. USWeb/CKS ended last year with nearly 2,000 employees--a number that's grown this year to 4,800 through internal growth and acquisition.


USWeb/CKS, which offers a range of technology, strategic and marketing/communications services, ranks No. 1 on Advertising Age's Interactive 100 list of interactive marketing agencies.

Mr. Shaw, a self-proclaimed "gray-haired man" and an accountant by training, is not your typical Internet CEO, which is precisely the point. USWeb's founders and board recruited him for his ability to manage and grow an organization.

In his previous job, Mr. Shaw helped build Oracle's global consulting practice into a $2.5 billion business with 15,000 consultants.

"We're just at the beginning of the digital age," Mr. Shaw says. "It's a huge opportunity--not just a financial opportunity, but an opportunity to change the way business and commerce are conducted."


Mr. Shaw is intent on building USWeb/CKS through internal growth, but he's also shepherding strategic acquisitions to expand the breadth of services. In September, USWeb/CKS bought Mitchell Madison Group, a management consultancy.

He intends to "aggressively but smartly" expand offerings in traditional advertising, "possibly" through acquisition, something USWeb/CKS executives hinted at earlier this year. "I can't say too much, but it will make sense to you soon," he says.

A key reason for this interest in offline advertising: Mr. Shaw is looking past banner ads to a future of rich-video advertising delivered over broadband.


Mr. Shaw spent the past 20 years in consulting and technology, but he recognizes the importance of creative.

"I'm a consultant in drag," he says. "I love walking around Madison Avenue. I don't try to outguess our creative people. But I know the issues in the business, the touch points. I have deep appreciation (for the creative role). . . . It just changes everything we do and it makes us more successful. It makes our clients more successful."

Copyright November 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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