Deals

Namely raises $1M to help ad agencies battle tech startups for talent

Turnover has always been a problem at top advertising agencies. But these days the designers and developers needed to create rich media campaigns are also being lured away from Madison Avenue by the booming New York tech scene.

“Retaining top folks is always a problem for agencies,” says digital media agency veteran Matt Straz. “Battling for talent with tech startups and that has added a whole new dimension to the talent crunch.”

So Straz has founded a new company, Namely, which hopes to use cloud computing and data analysis to help advertising agencies retain their key employees.

Venturebeat has learned that Namely just raised a $1 million seed round from some of the biggest names in New York’s ad-tech scene: folks like Mike Lazerow from Buddy Media, Michael Barrett from AdMeld, Michael Kassan and Wenda Harris Millard from MediaLink, Simulmedia’s Dave Morgan and CIA founder Chris Ingram.

“At some agencies there can be 30 percent annual turnover on the top accounts,” said Straz. “We’re building a really robust database in the cloud so that the decision makers at these companies can get an informed take on who they should pay to keep and when it’s ok to let a competitor poach.”

Although he won’t name any names, Straz says that several of the largest advertising agencies have already signed on and imported their employee statistics, meaning Namely has a better chance to avoid the cold start problem of having a service making recommendations based on very little data.

Straz, who sold his previous startup Pictela to AOL, says that he decided to avoid raising from traditional venture capitalists and took four months going door to door with people from his own industry. “It took a lot longer, but it was a lot more satisfying. There are kind of two worlds in New York, the flashy consumer tech and then the big world of ad-tech behind it.”

He has also decided to headquarter Namely in Brooklyn. “That’s where the creative class tends to live,” Straz noted. He’ll be joining Charlie O’Donnell, who yesterday launched a new venture fund to focus on the rising tech scene in Brooklyn. “I just hired a developer and you know who I was competing with? Facebook. But this guy picked Namely because we’re based in Williamsburg, and that’s a neighbourhood he loves.”