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Holmes Report
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Holmes Report

When browser pioneer Netscape was acquired by AOL in 1998, corporate communications executives Donna Sokolsky and Chris Hempel didn’t have to think particularly hard about their next move: with many of the company’s senior executives leaving to launch their own technology start-ups or join other Silicon Valley leaders, they found their services in considerable demand. So in January of 1999 the two launched Sparkpr, which enjoyed considerable success in its first year—working with VA Linux to take the company through what was the most successful IPO of all time—and has gone from strength to strength since, establishing itself over the past nine years as one of the best of a new generation of technology public relations firms.


Sokolsky continues to serve as senior managing director, drawing on her deeply rooted connections within the influencer community and responsible for creating new service offerings, providing ongoing strategic counsel to clients, and new business development, but the day-to-day management of the firm is handled by a strong team led by chief executive Alan Soucy, a Silicon Valley veteran with more than 20 years of experience at companies including Philips Electronics, where he was responsible for establishing Philips’ Mobile Computing Group, and a former Spark client. He is supported by senior managing directors Rebecca Fuller, who heads the firm’s emerging technology practice and Tim Turpin, an OutCast veteran who works with venture capital firms, as well as companies in clean and green tech, enterprise software and search. And a trio of managing directors: Diane Schreiber, Syreeta Mussante, Rachel Bremer (who oversees Sparkpr’s European operations based out of London). New in 2008 was Clarissa Horowitz, who joined Sparkpr as a senior director in the firm’s AlphaSpark emerging companies practice and oversees the firm’s new Cape Town office.


Today, Spark’s team of 35 delivers deep expertise across 11 industry sectors, four of which—entertainment, consumer electronics, games, and social media and networking—were added within the past 12 months. Revenues grew  by better than 20 percent in 2008 to around $7.2 million, with more than 50 new client wins, including Slingshot Labs (a division of Fox Interactive), Spore, CitySearch, Playfish, Wetpaint, Indigo Books & Music, Sungevity, Tiny Pictures, Driverside and Mindjet. The firm continues to work for a host of industry leaders, including Barclays Bank, Blinkx, Electronic Arts, Farecast (a division of Microsoft), various Fox Interactive divisions, Hutchison Whampoa, various divisions of IAC, Index Ventures, MySpace, Sony Playstation, and Virgin Green Fund.


High-profile assignments include The Economist Debate Series (Spark hosted a series of successful online debates for The Economist, ushering the 165-year-old publication online); the MySpace Developer Launch, opening the MySpace platform to new applications; the launch of  EA’s most-anticipated new gaming title, Spore, securing coverage in Parade, FOX News, Forbes, ReutersTV, and The New York Times; and the introduction of INQ’s new Facebook Phone internationally.


Sparkpr is headquartered in San Francisco, with satellite offices in New York, London and Cape Town. The firm also partners with leading agencies globally.

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