CAMBRIDGE—Larry Weber, who sold his technology public relations firm to the Interpublic Group of Companies in 1996 and who currently runs IPG’s advanced marketing services (AMS) group, is stepping down from his full-time role with the company and will become a consultant to the troubled ad agency holding company.
Weber’s role had changed significantly over the past couple of years. He was responsible for building the company’s PR holdings, but the growth strategy changed as the money for acquisitions dried up. And in April, IPG announced that Harris Diamond, chief executive of Weber Shandwick, would have an expanded role, including oversight for both Weber Shandwick and Golin/Harris and that its AMS division would likely be dissolved.
IPG chairman and CEO John Dooner, who masterminded the Weber acquisition, was demoted to CEO of the McCann advertising unit in March, and replaced by former True North chief executive David Bell, who worked closely with Diamond before their company was acquired by IPG.
The Weber announcement came as IPG reported a net loss for the first quarter as costs increased and demand for its wide array of advertising and marketing services weakened. Revenue was up just 0.9 percent to $1.43 billion, mostly because of the benefit of foreign exchange rates. Organic revenue declined 5.4 percent.
Weber told reporters he was looking forward to his new role. “I did what I wanted to do,” Weber told the Boston Globe. “After Interpublic bought the Weber Group, they asked me to please give them a strategy to build the largest PR firm in the world, and I did that.”
With Weber at the help, IPG merged The Weber Group with Shandwick International and made several important acquisitions, including consumer public relations specialist DeVries Public Relations. After IPG acquired True North and its PR firm BSMG Worldwide, it merged Weber Shandwick and BSMG to create the world’s largest public relations firm, with fees at the time of around $450 million.
“We’re going to retain an ongoing relationship with Mr. Weber,” said Philippe Krakowsky, a spokesman for Interpublic. “He is going to consult with the organization and retain the title of founder of Weber Shandwick.”