Harley-Manning_small [Posted by Harley Manning]

One of the toughest parts of being an analyst is figuring
out not WHAT will happen but WHEN it will happen.  Back in May of 2007 I wrote a short report
that described Forrester’s take on Microsoft’s acquisition of Avenue A Razorfish. In that report I
predicted that the Web site design part of the business would be spun off,
“possibly just called ‘Razorfish,’” and that acquirers would flock to snap up
that part of the firm.

To be open, I was beginning to think I’d been wrong.  But then yesterday, FT.com broke the news
that Microsoft appointed Morgan Stanley to find a buyer for the design part of
the agency, which dropped the “Avenue A” part of its name and is now called

What does this mean for current Razorfish clients? First
off, they should keep in mind that they have an agency that just came out as a Leader
in the Forrester Wave of interactive marketing agencies’ Web design
capabilities.  In other words, Razorfish
is capable of doing good work, so don’t rush to jump ship to what could be a
worse alternative.

Second, as we advised back in May of 2007, pay extra
attention to documentation on any of your work in process. That’s because even
if YOU don’t panic, some Razorfish employees assigned to your projects might do
just that. Keep in mind that the top source of agency design talent is…other
agencies. Recruiters will be smiling and dialing into the Razorfish employees
in their contact database hoping to get them to move.  You want to make sure you know who’s doing
what for you and what stage all work is in. I’d probably go so far as to have a
chat with the Razorfish project manager assigned to you to review procedures in
place for keeping you on track should a key consultant split on short notice.

For companies thinking of hiring Razorfish, your risk has
probably not gone up substantially. Keep that in mind when competitive agencies
try to sow a little fear, uncertainty and doubt into their pitches.  Our agency selection advice remains the same:
Pick an agency with key expertise in your area of strongest need. If that’s
Razorfish, and you’re still worried, you can protect yourself in your contract
by defining penalties for key staff who leave the project and breaking larger
projects into smaller phases with an option for opting out of the contract
after each phase.