SHIFT Communications Acquired By …

Today we announce some major news at SHIFT Communications. The biggest news ever.  Bigger than being named Digital/Social Agency of the Year.  Bigger than the wins at McDonald’s or or H&R Block.  Bigger than the Social Media Press Release.

Today we announce SHIFT’s acquisition … by our employees.

We are now SHIFT Communications, Inc., a corporation owned, in part, by its employees, through a newly-developed Employee Stock Option Purchase (ESOP) plan.

I won’t lie to you: my friend and business partner, Jim Joyal, and I have been wined & dined by some of the most experienced and storied execs in the industry in the past year or two.  We came very close to “making a deal” – worth millions of dollars to us both – on at least a couple of occasions.  Each time we got close to selling SHIFT, however, some small voice inside of us said, “What about the folks who got us here? What’s in it for them?”  Each time, we respectfully backed away from the negotiations.

The last time this process occurred – in fact, while we were on a conference call with a prospective acquirer – Jim put the call on “mute,” turned to me and said, “Ya know, I’d enjoy this a whole lot more if you were the one buying me out.”  Thank you, Jimmy, for turning on the light bulb which lit the way.

The perorations and negotiations that followed were neither frenzied nor difficult.  They were fun.  Jim and I wanted to figure out a way that he could continue in his role as my partner, but “take some money off the table” while also benefiting our employees.  ALL of our employees, not just the bigwigs.  An ESOP was the obvious answer.  So I got a bank, worked with umpteen lawyers, bankers, accountants and consultants and worked it all out.

Now we’re a new agency.  An employee-owned agency.  Independent in spirit, as always, and now with the added backbone of knowing – truly knowing – that our fate is in our own hands.  Can you think of many other agencies ready, willing and able to take such extraordinary steps to invest in its employees?  We’ve always tried to do things differently here at SHIFT, and this is just one more example.

And we don’t intend to stand idle, that’s for sure.  As all of this ESOP stuff has been percolating on the business side, we’ve also been experimenting and forming new partnerships on the services side.  In the months ahead, SHIFT Communications, Inc. intends to demonstrate to its clients, and the industry, that there are new ways of thinking about the role of media in communications strategy.

Now, more so than ever before, I ask you: to stay tuned!

P.S. in case you’re interested in a piece of this freshly-baked pie: we’re hiring at all levels!

Posted on: August 6, 2012 at 9:15 am By Todd Defren
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