Veteran adman Puris creates Net incubator

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Former Ammirati Puris Lintas Chairman Martin Puris is forming an Internet incubator, New Things LLC, to invest in start-up companies.

Mr. Puris is in serious negotiations with former Conde Nast Publications executive Catherine Viscardi Johnston about joining him as a principal. He has already lured David Bennahum, a contributing editor to Conde Nast's Wired, as a principal.

New Things will raise money from private and institutional sources, Mr. Puris said. He did not say what the initial assets of the incubator would be, but said they would be "significant."


Incubators provide capital, office space, and technical and marketing expertise to start-ups in exchange for stakes in the companies. They also help fledgling companies prepare business plans used to approach venture capitalists for later funding rounds.

Mr. Puris said he decided to form an Internet incubator because "That's where the most fun is and also where the greatest rewards are if it's successful."

Mr. Puris was a co-founder of Ammirati & Puris and saw the agency through its 1994 merger with Lintas. He left last November after parent Interpublic Group of Cos. merged the agency again, this time with Lowe & Partners. At the time, Mr. Puris said one merger was enough for a lifetime and that he would most likely resurface in an Internet-oriented business.


Ms. Viscardi Johnston, a veteran magazine sales and marketing executive, was forced out of Conde Nast last fall after clashing with Chairman S.I. Newhouse Jr. She said she is in "serious discussions" with Mr. Puris, but is considering several other options as well.

Although she did not disclose them, Ms. Viscardi Johnston is believed to be weighing offers to join investment banker Veronis, Suhler & Associates and an unidentified magazine company. She said she has known Mr. Puris for 15 years.

Mr. Puris said he is in discussion with a number of other people about joining his incubator as principals or senior partners.

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