Agency Chief Gets Earn-out, Spreads Wealth to Employees

Staff at New Media Strategies Gets Cash From 2007 Meredith Deal

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NEW YORK ( -- Usual drill: Ad agency gets acquired, founders get rich and employees, well, get to work for the new boss.

Pete Snyder
Pete Snyder
But that's not the drill at digital shop New Media Strategies, acquired by Meredith Corp. back in 2007. When that deal closed, CEO Pete Snyder and fellow founders set aside a stock pool to reward employees who stuck around.

Three years later, that stock pool has appreciated to $2.5 million, meaning the 30 employees out of 50 that remain are getting checks valued between $80,000 and $105,000 this week, according to execs familiar with the matter, not a bad reward for helping Mr. Snyder and other shareholders make their earn-outs.

While agency Mr. Snyder would not confirm these figures, he did say: "This is how it usually goes: A company gets sold, the owners do well, and all the employees get screwed. I wanted to do something really different."

Bucking another trend in agency acquisition, Mr. Snyder said he plans to stay on as CEO of New Media Strategies, even though he's now fully compensated for the deal. He's also adding on a new title: president of emerging media for Meredith Integrated Marketing, reporting to unit President Martin Reidy. Since 2006, Meredith has been building its agency unit through acquisition. Most recently, it acquired mobile hot shop The Hyperfactory.

"It's really because of the innovation that's happening at Meredith," said Mr. Snyder on his decision to stay with the Des Moines-based publisher and broadcaster. "They continue to get it. They provide ideas and resources, but they also allow entrepreneurs to operate the way they need to."

In February, Chrysler named New Media Strategies its social media agency of record. Today, headcount is more than 130, and the agency has hired around 50 people this year. It has also added offices in Detroit, North Carolina, San Francisco, New York and Chicago.

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