a21 Appoints Ferguson CEO

Posted on 10/10/2006 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



October 10, 2006

a21, Inc. has appointed John Z. Ferguson Chief Executive Officer and he joins the Company's Board of Directors. Mr. Ferguson previously held senior management positions at Getty Images.

Most recently Ferguson served as Senior Vice President, Sales - Americas, an executive committee position reporting directly to the CEO Jonathan Klein. As a senior executive with responsibility for sales, regional marketing, and acquisition integration, Ferguson helped lead Getty's revenue growth to more than $700 million. During his tenure with Getty, Ferguson also held a key leadership role driving substantial sales growth for Art.com, Getty's online art delivery subsidiary.

As a result of a21's acquisition of Art Select in May 2006 about half of its revenue is for the side of the business that provides wall art for homes and businesses. The fact that Mr. Ferguson's has experience on both the wall art and the commercial still photo sides of the business is expected to be a plus.

In November a21 is expected to report third quarter revenue in the range of $6 million. The current has an annual run rate for the company is approximately $25 million. Second quarter revenue for the stock imagery side of the business was up 29% from the same quarter a year earlier.

In conjunction with Ferguson's appointment, Philip N. Garfinkle, who has been serving as interim President and Chief Operating Officer, has been appointed Executive Chairman of a21. Among his many accomplishments in the digital imaging industry, Garfinkle introduced online photo processing to the consumer with PictureVision, Inc., a company he founded and built for several years before selling it to Kodak. Albert H. Pleus, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, will serve as an Executive Advisor to the Company in addition to remaining a Company director.

Garfinkle says the company is looking at "some innovative technologies that will make it easier and faster for customers to find the pictures they need." This not only includes improved search algorithms, but "finding ways other than keyword search to source content."

When asked if he sees micro payment having much of an impact on the industry Garfinkle said, "At the end of the day I think the crowdsourcing and micro payment models could be very important for us. We need mechanism to let casual web users gain access to creative material. We find it (micro payment) extremely interesting and it has great potential for leveraging all the content we are creating and aggregating. Some of the best potential is some of the prosumers who are creating the content."

In addition to his extensive experience in the digital imaging and art delivery industries, Ferguson, 40, has also held senior sales and managerial positions at a number of highly regarded international technology and marketing-driven organizations, including Broderbund Software, Inc., Quaker Oats Company, and Coca-Cola USA. Ferguson earned an MBA from the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at DePaul University, and is also a graduate of Michigan State University.

As Chief Executive Officer, Ferguson will set a21's immediate strategy and direction, establish corporate goals and objectives, and organize the Company to successfully execute its plan. Garfinkle will assist Ferguson during his transition but ultimately focus on the long-term strategic vision of the Company, including acquisitions.

"John brings a winning combination of industry knowledge, leadership skills, and a successful track record perfectly suited to lead a21's growth strategy," commented Garfinkle. "We are fortunate to have attracted an accomplished executive with a broad range of skills and extensive knowledge of both our digital imaging and art delivery businesses. And, with his high energy level and intense focus, John is the ideal leader to enhance our existing operations, as well as quickly identify new growth opportunities to drive a21 to the next level."

"Phil and John are both proven leaders who have the demonstrated ability to take a company like a21 through our next phase of growth," stated Albert H. Pleus, "I am confident they will create significant value for our clients and our shareholders, by efficiently and effectively leveraging our foundation, resources, and considerable talent."

The Company has also announced that shareholders have elected five directors, three of whom are independent, at its most recent annual meeting. In addition to Garfinkle and Pleus, the following were also elected to the Board as independent directors:

    A.D. "Bud" Albers, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of MusicNet, Inc.

    Laura B. Sachar, Founder and Co-Chairman of StarVest Partners, L.P., a New York-based venture capital firm and, along with Morgan Stanley, a lead investor in a21's most recent $15.5 million private placement.

    C. Donald Wiggins, President of Business Valuations, Inc., a firm specializing in business valuations, and Heritage Capital Group, a firm specializing in mergers and acquisitions of middle market companies.

Copyright © 2006 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


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