And Now for Something Completely Different

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by: David Armano

I’ve decided that it’s time to shake up some things in more than a few ways. As of today, I will no longer be employed with Critical Mass and I’m starting a new job with Dachis Corporation, where I will be working with Jeff Dachis, Peter Kim, and Kate Niederhoffer, on something we are calling "social business design" (more on that later).

On top of that, I’m in the process of moving the family to Austin where the main office will be located. We’re ready for warmer weather and a different style of living that only a town like Austin can offer. These are both huge changes and I can’t believe I’m writing this. It feels a bit surreal.

Before I go into anything about the new opportunity and new life I hope to build in Austin, I wanted to reflect on my time with Critical Mass and the opportunities I’ve had here. I’ve been working in interactive since 1997,and in the digital marketing space since 1999. I came from the Web design side spending nearly six years at and then two at Digitas. I was nearly done with the interactive agency scene but decided that there was something different about Critical Mass. And there was. I’ve been able to work alongside some of the best, brightest and above all, nicest people in the industry. "CMers" as we call ourselves are special and I feel like I’ve been given opportunities here that I would have never had elsewhere. I was fortunate enough to join the company when we started our own blogging efforts on Experience Matters and helped run that for nearly 2 years. The leadership team at CM was supportive when I asked them to start a Twitter account nearly two years ago (now being maintained by CMer Len Kendall) and I had loads of fun turning on the "beta cam" and a variety of events leveraging our "Always In Beta" site that we practically built overnight.

I’ve been able to work with a variety of clients ranging from P&G to Citi to Valvoline and Hyatt and got to participate in one of coolest experiences of my life, pitching and winning adidas business out of Amsterdam. I’ve had an amazing 2 years at this company supported by people who had enough faith in me to do give me the freedom to do the things I’m best at. And I’m grateful for all of it.

Now, back to the opportunity at hand. As I mentioned, I’m off to do something we’re calling "social business design" with a few smart folks who are looking to change the way business gets done. While I can’t provide intimate details on what this means, I can tell you that it’s much bigger than marketing, advertising or design—and it will get to the core of how we will work differently in an age where collaboration and co-creation can drive product and service innovations. It’s a big concept, and Jeff Dachis who is the original founder of Razorfish is one of the few people around who saw the potential of the 1st Web revolution before most anyone knew what the Web was. Dachis Corporation (this is interim name of the company) is positioned as follows:

"Dachis Corporation was established to create a company delivering social technology platforms and professional service programs with the stated goal of helping companies become “Social Enterprises”.This involves both deploying technology to connect people and provide them with tools to enable specific business intent, and professional services to help transform the way business processes work and the way people communicate."

And while this is the official positioning of the venture, what I can tell you from first hand experience working with several large organizations and brands is that there is a much bigger need that goes beyond "viral campaigns" and levering "social technologies" to generate word of mouth (translation, get people saying good things about your product, service or brand). There needs to be cultural changes that take place within organizations in order for them to tap the emerging ways to both develop and market their products and services in a rapidly changing business environment. There has to be a systematic bottoms up and tops down transformation starting with strategy and supported by the right types of technology which can enable more effective human and system interactions. This is the place we hope to play in.

I’m jumping into the new role right away, in fact I start on Monday and am flying out this Sunday night. We have a lot to do. I am adjusting my speaking schedule and have recently turned down a few opportunities over the next few months, so I can focus on the new challenges but will be able to dial those up again when the timing is right depending on relevancy, so please keep that in mind. I will also continue blogging here with a continued focus on quality and relevance of content with the same type of discretion and respect I use for all of my employers. And I will continue occasionally writing for Ad Age should I require a marketing fix and of course BusinessWeek. All this means you can still expect the thinking, insights and visuals you’ve come to expect.

There might be a bit of a shift to solving different types of problems as I’ve hinted around to with the positioning of the company. This is not about marketing—it’s something that goes deeper into the root of how business will need to evolve. I am also very excited at the prospect of joining this venture while it’s young. As a senior partner—I’ll get an opportunity to steer the ship as it sets sail.

If you are curious to find out more about the people I am working with, you can check out their blogs or Twitter pages:

Jeff Dachis
Peter Kim
Kate Nieferhoffer

If you work for an organization, brand and think we could do business together, please send a note here.
For press inquiries about Dachis Corporation, please drop a line here.
If you want to join our growing team in the near future, let us know here.
I’m also officially on G-mail, so direct you can reach me directly here.

We’d love to here from you. Thanks again for all your support these past years and being a part of my life. I look forward to continued growth alongside you.

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