Zunch Execs Jump Ship, Join Together

Search and interactive marketing agency Zunch Communications saw the mass exodus of five top executives last week. Today, those five have announced the launch of a new digital agency, Kinetic Results.

The new company will be led by Kevin Ryan, former chief strategy officer at Zunch; and Giovanni Gallucci, Zunch’s former president and COO. They are joined by Dave Wilkie, former EVP of creative and co-founder of Zunch, Tony Wright, former chief interactive marketing officer, and Anthony Zapata, former director of business development.

Kinetic Results gives the official reason behind their resignations as “significant philosophical differences.” Zunch’s CEO says the departures came as part of a streamlining of the business following recent growth, though it is a telling fact that at press time, the Zunch site was still listing the departed execs as part of its management team.

“We had to evaluate our business model to better serve our clients,” John Sanchez, Zunch’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “There was no need for our executive structure to stay as it was created prior to our growth. With these changes, we can expand our client services and function at a higher level of efficiency by omitting the red tape that slowed us down.”

Ryan describes Kinetic Results as part search marketing, part online advertising, and part public relations management. The company’s site refers to it as “a full service digital agency,” offering everything from identity design to mobile application development to database integration.

“There appears to be a tremendous void in the business in thinking beyond the constraints of directed search,” Ryan told ClickZ News. “The industry is focused on things like behavioral advertising and the impact of next generation ad models. It appears in that process we’re leaving behind the cumulative information and the cumulative understandings that can be achieved by pulling the entire knowledge base together.”

While several digital agencies are moving toward search, either by building a practice or acquiring an existing one, others — like Kinetic — are coming from the search side but seeking to go beyond it.

“We still see large growth in search, but as a percentage of overall spend, search budgets have flattened out. As the agency world embraces search, and the natural and paid search specialist firms see their market share deplete, they’re going to have to diversify or find specialized needs to distinguish themselves,” he said.

Part of Kinetic Results’ plan to differentiate itself is its holistic approach, Ryan said. Because of its founders’ diverse expertise, he said, Kinetic Results can be flexible and compete in the marketplace against both search and digital agencies.

“As part of our strategic direction, we decided that no product, technology, or specialized service that we offer stands alone. That gives us the ability to reach out to a broader scope of clients,” he said.

Ryan, who was an SVP at Wahlstrom Interactive until late last year, served a short stint at Did-It beginning in January, and joined Zunch in August. He isn’t the first high-profile search engine marketer to leave his job and strike out on his own lately. Andy Beal, former VP of marketing at WebSourced, packed his bags in July to launch Fortune Interactive late last month.

In other parallels, Beal also cited philosophical differences with his former employer, and the need for more flexible search firms. Fortune Interactive plans to explore several niches within search, including the use of blogs and RSS as marketing channels. Fortune will also focus on providing premium customer service.

“The industry continues to grow at a phenomenal rate and there are many niches that are waiting to be filled,” Beal told ClickZ News. “Many search engine marketers are seeing the landscape shifting and realizing that they can fulfill a need by starting their own company.”

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