PepperCom finally opens a shop in CA and plans to go global soon

SAN FRANCISCO: PepperCom, one of Silicon Alley's fastest growing hi-tech PR independents, has planted a flag on the Left Coast with a new San Francisco office.

SAN FRANCISCO: PepperCom, one of Silicon Alley's fastest growing hi-tech PR independents, has planted a flag on the Left Coast with a new San Francisco office.

SAN FRANCISCO: PepperCom, one of Silicon Alley's fastest growing hi-tech PR independents, has planted a flag on the Left Coast with a new San Francisco office.

The five-year-old New York-based firm, which grew more than 80% last year and is projecting billings of dollars 10 million in 2000, has named Andrew Hilton head of the Bay Area outpost, located in the heart of the financial district at 1 Sansome Street.

Hilton, formerly an account director in the firm's New York office, will oversee a handful of California-based clients, including Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), Day Corporation, Big Machines and CardoNet.

According to PepperCom co-managing partner Ed Moed, the decision to enter San Francisco's famously expensive and crowded market was not an easy one.

'We waited for a long time when most of our competitors had already jumped in, because it is very saturated there,' said Moed. 'But we think there is a real demand on the West Coast for our 'positioning and partnership strategy' niche.'

Moed also said that PepperCom, which has already more than doubled in staff and fee income since January 2000, hopes to continue its expansion into Europe, most likely opening a London office later this year.

'We are looking at it as smart, structured growth, going places where our expertise in strategy and positioning is in demand. And we will not be run geographically; clients are handled across offices by national practice groups,' he explained, admitting that he is not necessarily expecting a huge business boom in San Francisco.

'We have about three people and about dollars 500,000 in billings there right now. A year from now, we will hopefully be at about three times that,' he said.

Founded in 1995, PepperCom is best known for its emphasis on co-branding strategy, i.e., pairing up start-ups with research organizations to lend credibility to Web content. Clients include well-established corporate players such as Ernst & Young and GE Capital, as well as high-profile b-to-b and consumer startups such as VerticalNet, Quepasa, GlobalFoodExchange and LivePerson. Currently, the agency has about 65 full-time employees, 20 of whom have been hired since January.



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