Spark ignites Linux’s IPO, passes PR torch to Access

PALO ALTO, CA: Just months after its headline-making Wall Street debut, VA Linux has shifted its PR business from Palo Alto boutique SparkPR to San Francisco-based Access Communications. But here’s the catch: it was actually Spark who played matchmaker for the Linux/Access relationship.

PALO ALTO, CA: Just months after its headline-making Wall Street debut, VA Linux has shifted its PR business from Palo Alto boutique SparkPR to San Francisco-based Access Communications. But here’s the catch: it was actually Spark who played matchmaker for the Linux/Access relationship.

PALO ALTO, CA: Just months after its headline-making Wall Street

debut, VA Linux has shifted its PR business from Palo Alto boutique

SparkPR to San Francisco-based Access Communications. But here’s the

catch: it was actually Spark who played matchmaker for the Linux/Access

relationship.



Why would a year-old, nine-person PR firm intentionally unhitch its

wagon from one of the Valley’s hottest start-ups, whose stock price

soared 700% on its first day of trading and which looks to blossom into

a million-dollar-plus account within a year?



According to Spark principal Chris Holten-Hempel, the decision to help

VA Linux find a new home was simply the right thing to do for all

parties involved.



’In a year’s time, we took Linux from 16 people to 250, launched the

company, got them featured in Fortune’s ’12 Coolest Companies’ issue and

helped them through the biggest IPO of the decade,’ she said. ’Spark’s

mission is complete.’ She added that VA Linux had outgrown the agency,

and needed access to more people and a broader base of resources.



Spark client epinions.com is making a similar move to a new agency,

Holten-Hempel added.



’Taking our account to another firm was really Spark’s idea,’ confirmed

epinions.com co-founder Nirav Tolia, who has already met with a few

prospective new agencies, including AlexanderOgilvy. ’Spark has been

incredible for us, but now that we have 80 employees and are no longer

such an unknown, we need an agency with a larger set of resources.’



While losing two clients of VA Linux’s and epinions.com’s stature could

sink many young agencies, Holten-Hempel explained that both had to move

on in order to allow Spark to maintain its desired business model:

working on short-term contracts to launch pre-IPO start-ups and then

graduating them to larger agencies within a year.



’Our hope is to hover around 10 people moving forward, to stay small and

focused,’ Holten-Hempel explained. ’In bigger agencies, the senior

people spend lots of time managing people, dealing with bookkeeping

issues, setting up 401Ks. For us, the fun is in pitching interesting and

unique stories about our clients and garnering the coverage.’



Of course, in passing clients to bigger firms, Spark is not being

entirely selfless. Since the agency receives equity in its pre-IPO

clients, its employees get a lasting piece of companies like VA Linux no

matter where they end up. And with VCs like Angel Investors and The

Barksdale Group on Spark’s client roster, there are likely to be a few

more hot prospects waiting in the wings.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.