Social media is starting to mature. There is no better sign of this than when firms start to acquire talent. There is rumblings of this all around the social media and communications firms.
Connie Reece's company, Every Dot Connects, was recently acquired by New Media Lab in Austin. On the heels of that announcement comes the news today that Livingston Communications, owned by Geoff Livingston, the author of the popular Buzz Bin blog, was acquired by CRT/tanaka. Geoff will remain on as a senior vice president. Geoff is also the author of “Now is Gone: A Primer on New Media for Executives and Entrepreneurs.”
Last year, Livingston Communications nearly merged with the Social Media Group, but that deal fell through. In the way of full disclosure, I do have a connection with Geoff Livingston and Livingston Communication as a contractor.
I asked Geoff to answer some questions that I think people will have, Here were his frank answers:
Question: When you talked about merger with SMG you really hit on the idea of a purist social media practice, CRT/tanaka takes an integrated approach? What gives? Which one do you advocate?
Geoff: I think people said that was a purist approach, but if you look at this post you will see au contraire: We never said it was stand alone, and that ultimately social media must be integrated. The CRT/tanaka acquisition simply accelerates that move for me.
Question: What happens to the BuzzBin?
Geoff: It keeps going as is, authored by me, but is now owned by CRT/tanaka. If I ever depart I will have to go re-earn my Google jujitsu.
Question: Will you be censored there?
Geoff: I really don’t think so. The see the writing on the wall and want to be a top quadrant social media-capable communications firm. Our goal is not to be the social media department, it’s to push social media as a capability across the front line and execute as an agency on interactive, in PR and through advertising with the ability to intelligently engage stakeholders in meaningful two-way conversations.
Not everyone will be as opinionated as me, but there are already some voices inside the company who are using these tools. We want to encourage more voices, not stifle the ones who are already out there.
Question: Why are you merging now?
Geoff: Because it was the right deal at the right time for me. I don’t want to be the man, or the most popular guy on the Internet, and so having a CEO title doesn’t mean anything to me. What means something to me is becoming more available to my family, and doing great things that impact our society through clients, through openness and transparency, and through the embracing of public responsibility for our society’s issues, and the charitable efforts to resolve those problems.
Question: What will you be able to do with CRT/tanaka that you couldn’t do with Livingston Communications, what kind of services can you provide?
Geoff: A lot more. I feel like I went from 100 hp four cylinder engine to turbocharged V8 BMW M5. Further, CRT/tanaka’s presence in NY and LA makes me feel like we have the three most important communications markets in the country covered. We have access to major consumer experiences now, and as a nimble mid-size company, I feel like we can compete with the Edelmans and Ogilvys of the world.
Question: Will Livingston Communication be a subsidiary or will you become CRT/tanaka?
Geoff: Livingston is gone. We are CRT/tanaka.
You can also read Geoff's take on the acquisition at the Buzz Bin.
Photo by the inimitable Beth Harte at the SxSW All Hat…No Cattle party