Agency.com in Joint IBM, Intel Initiative

Web consulting and services firm Agency.com announced it had joined with powerhouse technology companies Intel and IBM to launch a European applied concepts lab in its London offices.

The Applied Concepts Lab is slated to provide facilities and resources for developing and testing e-Business services running on IBM’s line of Intel processor-based servers called the eServer xSeries. The investment is part of a million dollar initiative aimed at accelerating the development of e-Business in Europe and puts New York-based Agency in touch with possible clients looking for a facility to load, test and deploy applications and services that carry out what the company said is “comparative benchmarking in a more secure environment.”

Intel has been working with Agency in Europe since it launched its e-Business program at the beginning of March 2000. Agency jumped on board with Intel to enjoy the perceived fruits of a program which is aimed at developing e-Business integration frameworks that operate on Intel systems. Since the launch, Intel has signed up more than 30 Web integrators as service providers in Europe.

Peter Kestenbaum, vice president of global marketing for Agency, said the company has an aggressive alliance with the idea of marketing, joint development and increasing shares of business.

“We’re pulling together (with IBM and Intel) to do some work on platforms that will help us in equipment deployment. IBM has an application suite,” that the company will use to bump-up its Web, wireless and voice application testing, he added.

Kestenbaum was unable to give an accurate count of the number of companies that had signed up to use the lab, but sources close to the company said additional labs in North America are expected.

Shane Lennon, director of alliance programs for Agency, said the lab would test single applications first and as clients start building for all devices the trio would begin testing for benchmarking as prototype and start-up version would be expected to with more mature products.

“When you start trading over a cell phone you need to know if a system can take it on the multiple server end,” he said. In particular, Lennon said the company would analyze user capacity for new technology, especially in wireless and voice apps.

As a part of the deal that has been fermenting for about a year, Intel and IBM intend to provide Agency with the products, tools, resources, and technical information it needs to offer Intel architecture services to its customers. In return, Agency will also be permitted access to Intel’s database of collateral, white papers and service briefs, as well as Intel client and server hardware and software products.

Intel and IBM have agreed to also provide Agency with business leads, training, and co-marketing opportunities.

Once a design firm, Agency’s philosophy for branching out has paid off as it adds new staff. For example, former British Airways executive Julia Groves joined the company last month as chief marketing officer for European operations.

Agency, which offers Web consulting and strategic services, said Groves would be responsible for business development and marketing efforts in Europe and would report to Mathews.

Groves joins Agency.com from venture capital firm eVentures where she was the launch director for the business-to-consumer portfolio, acting as interim managing director for U.S. companies being launched in the UK.

Prior to eVentures, she founded the British Airways’ e-commerce department in 1996, holding the position of head of digital channels.

Agency.com is headquartered in New York and has offices in Amsterdam, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Copenhagen, Dallas, London, Paris, Portland, San Francisco, Colorado and New Jersey.

The announcement comes on a week of mixed news for the company after two investment banks downgraded Agency.com’s stock rating: trading buy to market outperform by Goldman Sachs, and buy to market perform, by Chase H&Q. In early going, the company’s share price was trading at $4.20, down 7 percent from yesterday’s close at $4.25.

Christine Gordon is a senior editor at atNewYork.com, an internet.com publication.

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