SAN FRANCISCO, April 6—When GCI Group acquired Kamer-Singer Associates a little over two years ago, the deal established the Grey Advertising unit as one of the major players in the San Francisco marketplace, with more than 100 employees, revenues of about $12 million, and a business that was balanced between the core technology business and Kamer-Singer’s corporate communications and public affairs focus.
But last year, GCI’s San Francisco operations were thrown into turmoil. First, general manager Greg Spector jumped ship to become chief operating officer at Blanc & Otus. Then, at the end of the year, his replacement Sam Singer left to form his own firm. Two other senior level executives have departed in the first few months of 2001: biotech practice leader Paul Laland, who joined Deltagen; and Jay Silverberg, the number three executive at Kamer-Singer.
The firm has lost business too, including assignments from Sun, MP3.com, GlobalStar, and British Airways (some of which continue to use GCI in other offices or for other projects) as well as a host of smaller dot-com accounts. The result is that Martin Alintuck, named president of the GCI San Francisco this week, inherits an operation of just 80 people, down 20 percent from its peak, and in need of a turnaround.
Alintuck joins from Burson-Marsteller, where he held several senior positions, including west coast corporate practice leader, managing director of B-M/Tokyo and managing director of B-M/Shanghai. His previous experience includes positions with Edelman and on the corporate site with Medco Behavioral Care Corporation.
“Martin is a quality hire for us in many ways,” says Bob Feldman, president and chief executive of GCI Group. “He has proven leadership experience. He has the business acumen to balance the need to provide superior client service with the ability to build and run a successful operation. And he has terrific Asia experience which we want to tap into as we continue to build that region of the world.”
GCI also tapped Bob Wynne, a senior leader in the San Francisco office, as leader of its North American corporate practice. Wynne, who joined GCI over a year-ago after serving as senior vice president of corporate relations for Citibank, has been handling high profile client assignments including Visa, Prudential Securities and Starbucks.
The San Francisco office consists of four practice groups: technology, which is led by former Fleishman-Hillard exec Gary Good; biotech and health technology, now managed by Rick Roose and Nina Ferrari; public affairs, headed by Larry Kamer; and corporate communications.
Feldman says the hiring of Alintuck does not signal that GCI is de-emphasizing the technology business, pointing to the appointment of Good and the opening of a technology-focused office in Boulder last year. But he does say the firm no longer has all its eggs in the technology basket. “We have a very diversified office in San Francisco,” he says.