Church of the Customer Blog« New company, new history | Main | Social Media 2010: it's time to get boring »
November 18, 2009
New company, new history
When Jackie Huba and I decided eight years ago to start a company, we envisioned it as a consulting firm that would help clients create customer evangelists.
It was March 2001. We'd both just left the web development company we had worked at for three years. Online advertising was king then, but we wanted to explore why some brands experienced strong word of mouth while others didn't. We wanted to understand what fueled the evangelism, how it happened, and how could we help others do the same.
We started with a website and an email newsletter in an era that could only be described as Before Blogs. A few months later, Fast Company did a short write-up on us, which led to a call from a publisher, which led to a book contract, which led to a year's worth of work, which led to the book "Creating Customer Evangelists" and a regular schedule of speaking engagements and workshops. Instead of focusing on building a company, we focused on spreading a philosophy.
Eight years later, there's a wide range of belief systems to choose from: evangelists, influencers, agents, advocates, mavens or sneezers. Social media fuels all of them at remarkable speed; some companies have adapted well while many others do nothing -- not because they're resistant to change, but because they're unsure of what to do. We think it's a good time to help with that.
So today we're announcing that Ant's Eye View, a management consulting company led by our friends Sean O'Driscoll and Jake McKee, is acquiring us and our company that's home to all of our work. We're very excited to be part of a group that helps business get smart about being social. We'll keep blogging here, and we'll continue to speak at conferences like we have for years, but we'll do that while helping grow a management consulting firm.
Ant's Eye View isn't even a year old yet, but it's already growing like some freaky kid prodigy. Sean was the guy behind Microsoft's MVP program, a community that brings knowledgeable Microsoft product users together with others who have questions or problems to solve. Jake was the guy at LEGO who changed the way that company thought about and engaged with loyal fans and customers through community relations (the subject of a Wired cover story in 2006).
Sean and Jake joined forces early in 2009 to launch Ant's Eye View. After that, they brought in Sean McDonald; he'd led the social media efforts at Dell to rebuild the company's image after "Dell Hell" scorched it. That included the company’s first corporate blog and pioneering efforts like Ideastorm.com.
We like Ant's Eye View because its people have led complex, customer-driven projects at big brands. They understand and believe in customer participation -- the fifth P of marketing -- our core marketing philosophy. They're focused, too; in less time than it takes some companies to decide on a name and a logo, Ant's Eye View has built an impressive roster of clients like Cisco, Apple, Intuit and a bunch of others. Word is just beginning to spread.
It's fitting that our announcement happens on the first day of the 2009 WOMMA Summit in Las Vegas. Five years ago, myself, Jackie and a handful of others met with Pete Blackshaw, Dave Balter and Jonathan Carson to hear their idea for an association focused on word of mouth. We're glad they eventually founded the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, which promotes the importance of word of mouth among all industries; Jackie was even named a founding board member. A bit rocky at times in its early years, WOMMA has filled its shoes well lately, especially by partnering with smarties like John Moore.
In fact, tonight at 7:30 pm (Wednesday), Ant's Eye View is throwing a celebration party at WOMMA. We'll be at the Risque club inside the Paris hotel, and the drinks are on us.
Other blogs that reference New company, new history:
Congrats on the news! I'm sure this will be an awesome move for everyone involved.
Congratulations, guys! Looks like they should just relocate the whole company to Austin now.
Awesome news, Ben and Jackie. Thrilled for you both, and for Ant's Eye View! A drink to you all in Las Vegas tonight; on my way to the airport right now.
Jackie/Ben (+Sean, Jake, Sean) - huge congrats to all of you and wish you tremendous success. See you over the next few days in Vegas...
Congratulations to you both. Your work has long been in inspiration for my company and I wish you the best of luck in your new endeavor.
Congratulations and mazel tov on the wonderful news. You're all not just very smart people, but you're all very NICE people. This is a case where the good guys finish first, and I couldn't be happier for you, Jackie, Jake, Sean and Sean.
p.s. Does Mini become the official mascot?
Way to go, Jackie and Ben. I can't wait to see what you come up with together.
Fantastic! True synergy. I'm so happy for all of you!
Congratulations! This sounds like a great combination for amazing success!
Did I say yet how great this is. I still remember having lunch at an Azteca, just off the main campus of Microsoft with you guys years ago while I was still at Microsoft and telling you that I have this little idea about leaving and doing consulting. Little did I know - how great is it that we are now together.
This is awesome news. Congrats and I'll be raising my glass to you from out East in Austin this evening!
P.S. I like the new photo on the blog...taken in front of the barber shop on South Congress. Nicely done!!
Jodi -- You have a very keen eye.
Ben and Jackie! This is such great news! I am really happy for you both and wish you much success with Ants Eye View. It's been fun to be part of where this started for you and to see where it's going. :) Congrats!
A big congratulations! Can't wait to see what the 4 of you joining forces will tackle first.
Congrats Ben and Jackie - couldn't have happened to a nicer pair!
Looking forward to hearing how this next chapter goes!
Congratulations. Nice to hear you're connecting with another fantastic group of people. Look forward to seeing and hearing more from Ant's Eye View
Congratulations Jackie and Ben! - Just go ahead and give your best to the business-world!
Congrats guys! I'm thrilled for you.
Congratulations to all of you....sounds like a winning combination!
All the best.
Adding my congrats! and good wishes. Seems like another lifetime when we were traveling the US talking about blogs for the AMA.
Congratulations. The market seems to be shaking out and bringing some of the most passionate and experienced minds together.
wow! I'm really impressed because your work (your books and philosophy) is a milestone in my mind and career. I wish you all the best on your new stage; that I'm already sure you'll four will be the greatest team of all!
Congratulations!! and tons of blessings!!
This seems like a very natural merging of like-minded services and philosophies. Best of luck. We're all rooting for you!
First off, congrats! I'd be curious, though, what do you think about starting a business around a philosophy, as opposed to starting a business around a product or service? Naturally, you'd need to monetize the philosophy or something if you wanted to do this full time... but what if you launch a service but build it more around a philosophy? I've been thinking about this lately. If you could shoot me an e-mail on this, that'd be great, I'm not sure if I'll get follow up comments.