Guarding a well-worn conference table in Razorfish's New York office is a tank filled with exotic fish -- at least two of which have been with the agency almost from the beginning.
Their original owner, founder Jeff Dachis, is long gone, and Razorfish is a veritable Frankenstein of digital shops, disciplines and technologies. But after multiple mergers, acquisitions, parent companies and a couple of different names, the firm and the fish have all found a home within Publicis Groupe .
In an all-too-rare occurrence in digital-agency deals, both Razorfish and Publicis appear to be flourishing. Fueled by the French parent's introductions, Razorfish has welcomed new clients, including Disney and Kellogg Co.Combined with other wins and organic growth from the likes of Intel and Mercedes-Benz, that has led to double-digit revenue growth and a 21% jump in headcount. Meanwhile, Publicis, which bought Razorfish from Microsoft in 2009 for $500 million, is looking to the digital shop for lessons in collaboration and tech-based business models.
"You have to be honest and objective on things you need to build or borrow; you need to be unselfish in what you share," said Jack Klues, CEO of Vivaki, the umbrella unit for Razorfish and other digital and media agencies. Build, borrow, share: "Razorfish and Vivaki are helping all of Publicis learn those three words," he added.
Last month, Razorfish Global CEO Bob Lord was given a major role in charting the course for $7 billion Publicis as the head of the "transformation committee," which is charged with evaluating the firm's global assets and recommending a strategy to strengthen its digital fabric. The role is well-suited to Mr. Lord, a 12-year Razorfish veteran who has spent much of his career outside a traditional ad holding company.
"We were independent for so long, we had to be Switzerland," Mr. Lord said. The ability to play nice with siblings has helped Razorfish win and retain major pieces of new business, including a significant portion of a $1 billion Disney media account in 2011.