SAN FRANCISCO – In an effort to bring valuable advertising expertise to its new media portfolio companies, the Walden Group in April welcomed online marketing veteran Rich LeFurgy to its team.
Mr. LeFurgy, who has worked with Walden as a consultant since November 1998, will complete several outstanding consulting commitments before joining the firm full time this summer.
The executive has 20 years experience in advertising and marketing and is known as somewhat of an Internet advertising guru. He has served as president and chairman of the Internet Advertising Bureau since it was founded in 1996 and is chairman of the FAST Forward Steering Committee, an Internet industry coalition formed in August 1998 to accelerate development of online marketing.
The $62 million Walden Media & Information Technology Fund closed in January 1998 with strategic limited partners such as America Online Inc., Times-Mirror Co., Electronic Arts, The Washington Post Co., Apollo Group, Gartner Group, Creative Technologies and New Line Cinemas. The vehicle invests in e-commerce and Internet-related advertising, entertainment companies and information and educational services.
Mr. LeFurgy believes his background at advertising agency NW Ayer & Partners and Buena Vista Internet Group, where he led advertising sales for ESPN.com, ABCNews.com, NFL.com, NBA.com, NASCAR Online and Disney.com., has prepared him well for his new career.
“What I really bring is a strategic point of view for the companies, to help identify where the [advertising] market is going,” he said.
Mr. LeFurgy said becoming a venture capitalist was a move that best suited his current interests. “I wanted to be involved in a number of companies in new media before they went public,” he explained. While he is “still learning” the financial side of the business, VC has so far proven to be “an interesting profession,” he said.
Mr. LeFurgy joins General Partner Rich Eskenazi, Philip Sanderson, George Sarlo, Art Berliner and Lip Bu-Tan in managing Walden Media & Information Technology.
“Rich is probably the single most important person in the interactive advertising and Internet marketing space,” Mr. Eskenazi said. The buzz around Internet start-ups is a critically important component in their success, and Mr. LeFurgy’s marketing background will clearly be an important factor in helping Walden’s portfolio companies, Mr. Eskenazi added.
Walden Media & Information Technology was a little more than half invested at press time, Mr. Eskenazi said.