W2O Group: Agency Business Report 2013

The former WCG, now W2O Group, has posted impressive figures over the last four years and 30% global growth in 2012 made last year no exception.

Principal: Jim Weiss, chairman and CEO
Ownership: Independent
Offices: Austin,TX, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York (2), and London
Revenue: Global: $62,005,000; US: $56,097,000
Headcount: Global: 305; US: 283

The former WCG, now W2O Group, has posted impressive figures over the last four years and 30% global growth in 2012 made last year no exception.

“We've achieved compound growth of 40% over the last 11 years in business, and this year we're on track to do the same thing,” says chairman and CEO Jim Weiss, who owns 100% of the firm and attributes the agency's success to “getting good people who are well-networked, bring new ideas, and execute them well for our clients.”

Five-year goal
Organic growth accounted for 60% of extra revenue, new business 40%. Profit margins were “double digit” between 10% and 20%, and Weiss' strategic plan is to build a $100 million agency within five years.

He cites new areas of growth in 2012 as technology and consumer. In February 2013, W2O beat Waggener Edstrom and Edelman to win BMC Software's multimillion-dollar global AOR account in a competitive review. Corporate and strategy change also grew, overseen by former GM and Edelman executive Gary Grates.

“We're growing by offering more services to a wider range of industries,” says Weiss.

The agency's small Chicago office was shuttered in 2012, but Austin is becoming its Midwest base, with more than 70 people. W2O opened in Los Angeles, eyeing talent and client opportunities. Boston, DC, and Atlanta are on the horizon in 2013.

Staff turnover in 2012 was 20%, with several people moving in-house to clients. Talent acquisition is as difficult for W2O as other firms, says Weiss. Rob Cronin came on as healthcare technology practice lead and Maura Bergen joined from Ketchum to be MD of W2O subsidiary Twist Mktg.

Weiss restructured his firm last March, setting up W2O Group as a network containing core comms firm WCG, startup specialist BrewLife, Twist, and incubator W2O Ventures. The network was enhanced during the year by the acquisition of Austin, TX, digital shop VM Foundry, which it merged with existing resources to create W2O Digital, London's Mettle Consulting, Partners in Medical Education, and big data firm Ravel.

Acquisitions are focused on bringing good people on board, says Weiss, rather than revenue or clients. “It's hard to integrate larger groups,” he adds. “We're not just talking about integration – we're doing it.”

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