63. Jon Marshall co-founder of MAP joined Pentagram
Always a frisson on the forums when Pentagram appoint a new partner. I’m excited by this one, Marshall is exactly who Pentagram should be appointing. The mix of classic product design with a good understanding of technology and designing for different types of connected interaction suits their heritage and future perfectly. Kano and BleepBleeps is exactly what Pentagram should have been doing.
I’m a huge fan of Map Project Studio (founded with Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby) and this must be a big loss for them.
64. Martin Sorrell resigned from WPP
After 33 years in charge of WPP Sorrell resigned, technically retired, probably before he was pushed. And that’s not the only similarity with Arsène Wenger.
It’s big moment in advertising and design as well, with many more questions than answers and a lot more to come from this story.
What happens to the consolidation of agencies now? Do the cost savings clients want come from breaking WPP up? What happens to SuperAgency? (see para 45)
WPP bought 43 small agencies last year alone. Lots of founder / entrepreneurs got rich in a tax efficient manner. Writing in the FT John Gapper describes this as essentially tax arbitrage which “paid for a lot of houses, boats and divorces”. But he acknowledges that the model “contributes innovation to the whole.”
There is a ringing endorsement from Justin Cooke who sold to WPP six years ago,
“Sir Martin practically invented the earn-out, turning WPP into a deal machine continuously injecting innovation and fresh thinking into the network as well as giving creative entrepreneurs the ability to realise value from their blood, sweat and tears and, more importantly creating a vibrant eco-system that has ensured that the UK remains at the heart of the creative economy.”
What happens when this merry go round comes to a halt? The FT is betting hard on a big break up with several articles this week. Worth noting that the idea seems to come from analysts with a desire to get in the press rather than anything concrete.
But one analyst says “Just as WPP was constructed so it can be deconstructed, think of WPP as a bank …it’s a financial engineering exercise.”
Is WPP the ad industries Carillion? The finances are nowhere near as bad but are we about to find out how much a financial construct it is versus a creative company?
Last point on this. Sorrell has no non-compete agreement with WPP. (That's the sound of people choking on their earn out deals up and down the land.)
65. Foster + Partners launch integrated services system
In collaboration with other design firms Foster and Partners released Node, a system to incorporate all the lighting, security, fire prevention and air conditioning services an office needs elegantly. It looks good and flexible. I’m no architect but this looks smart. I had a conversation this week where we wondered why designers are so reluctant to embrace systems. Every big successful design project involves many complex systems. I remarked that Foster + Partners were especially good at this.
66. Reckons on Apple and its cash flow
Scott Galloway (mentioned in para 27) writes that Apple should launch the world’s largest tuition-free university. Everyone has an idea of what Apple should do with all its cash. Maybe they’ll buy WPP.
67. Brilliant 3D printed optical illusion