CKS Group, USWeb combine to form big interactive shop

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CKS Group, Cupertino, Calif., and USWeb, Santa Clara, Calif., said they are merging to create a new-media systems integration and marketing company to be named Reinvent Communications. Executives for the two companies said Reinvent will have combined annualized revenue of $87 million, making it one of the largest interactive agencies in the U.S.

CKS Chairman-CEO Mark Kvamme will be chairman of Reinvent. Joe Firmage, chairman-CEO of USWeb, will be CEO of the new company. Toby Corey, president-chief operating officer of USWeb; Tom Suiter, chief creative officer of CKS; Sheldon Laube, chief technology officer of USWeb; and Carolyn Aver, chief financial officer of USWeb, will take on the same roles in the new company.

The announcement came as a surprise to the industry and to both companies' employees. CKS stock rose while USWeb's share price fell in trading after the announcement.

Existing clients include NBC, BellSouth Corp., Coca-Cola Co. and Harley-Davidson at USWeb, and Apple Computer, Levi Strauss & Co. and General Motors Corp. at CKS. About two-thirds of CKS' revenue comes from traditional media work, including print and collateral work, which will continue under Reinvent. CKS' traditional ad agency subsidiary, McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C., will become a unit of Reinvent.

Under the merger agreement, all shares and options of CKS Group will be exchanged at a ratio of 1.5 shares of USWeb stock to one share of CKS. That values CKS at about $300 million. Reinvent Communications will have 1,800 employees worldwide.

Copyright September 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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