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OneMediaPlace, a pioneering business-to-business site for buying and selling media, announced a merger with Media Passage today, following the layoffs of about 50 employess March 5.

"We have just completed our merger as of today with Media Passage, and our efforts to consolidate are in process," said Jerry Machovina, president-CEO of OneMediaPlace. Mr. Machovina said that the New York- and San Fransisco-based company began downsizing in January, letting go staff including all senior executives, excluding himself and Peter Effringer, VP-engineering.

The name of the company may be changed to OneMediaPassage, Mr. Machovina said.

Mr. Machovina will stay on as co-CEO with Gilbert Scherer, chairman-CEO of Media Passage, another online media buying site, for a period of time after which his title may change. "I do have a contract going forward," he said.

OneMediaPlace allowed advertisers to buy print, radio, TV, outdoor and online media directly from media companies through the Internet. The site took a commission from the seller. In January, the site claimed more than 3,500 registered sellers and more than 14,000 registered buyers, but those numbers have since significantly dropped.

The newly merged entity retains OneMediaPlace's Intenet technology, which allows users to make media transactions over the Internet, and the company's assets. Mr. Machovina pointed out that the OneMedia's original shareholders now have stock in the new company. "Our stockholders unanimously approved the merger," Mr. Machovina said. The company will retain its New York and San Francisco offices. OneMediaPlace was launched as Adauction about three years ago. Media agencies greeted the venture with skepticism because the service allowed advertisers to do deals without the agencies. Many media agency executives had accused Adauction of simply selling remnant media placements.

The company was relaunched as OneMediaPlace last April, and the following month the company put together $67 million in private investment financing from Primedia, Liberty Media, Artemis and CMGI @Ventures, the venture capital affiliate of CMGI. Other investment and strategic partners included Lehmen Brothers, Viventures, Convergence Partners and Amerindo Investment Advisors.

Copyright March 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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