LaPlante: Changes to be few after Twelve Horses' merger

David LaPlante, chief executive officer of Reno's Twelve Horses, says it's business as usual after his online marketing company last week was merged into One to One Interactive of Boston.

Terms weren't disclosed by the privately held companies.

"We were already such similar businesses that nothing really changes," LaPlante says. "We were already so similar in our structure, products and services and vision that it is safe to say nothing changes."

LaPlante's role with the company, however, will change.

As senior vice president of sales and marketing with One to One Interactive, one of four business units for One to One, the 39-year-old LaPlante leaves behind the administrative and back-office work involved with running Twelve Horses. Instead, he will focus on sales, marketing and client engagements.

"I still am very much with my fingers in what's new and exciting and will be bringing strategic thought and leadership to our clients," LaPlante says. "And who knows, maybe even a little East Coast skiing."

Twelve Horses, with offices in Reno and Salt Lake City, rose out of the dotcom bust to become a digital marketing firm with clients on both coasts. But serving East Coast customers often meant trips to Boston or New York. While all eastern Twelve Horses customers won't be served completely by OTO, LaPlante says they will benefit from the organization's ready resources.

"I can jump on a plane and be anywhere in the West in hour or two, but visiting clients in New York or Boston takes a good chunk out of my day," he says. "East Coast clients benefit from having us in their backyard now instead of on the other side of country."

The Twelve Horses brand will be retired as the company is folded under the OTO umbrella.

"We are putting the corporate identity out to pasture for a while," LaPlante says. "OTO has got more of global brand recognition. But Twelve Horses may be back one day in another shape or form."

Twelve Horses executives Steve Spencer and Martin Gastanaga will serve as senior executives for the OTO labs business unit. Staffing levels at the former Twelve Horses offices will remain the same, and LaPlante expects to add staff as OTO adds offices in western states.

"One to One has an ambitious growth plan, and I would expect continued expansion and growth," LaPlante says.

The merger came about through a meeting in Salt Lake City, with both companies seeking to solidify their presence on opposite coasts. The business models of both companies were so similar that a merger just made good sense, LaPlante says.

"We are already well positioned by being in the online marketing space," he says. "Companies are moving their budgets more in our direction than in traditional media. We were already enjoying the success of that, so it just made sense to combine the companies.

"One to One has a clear vision of building the digital agency of the future that we set out to build. We had one of those euphoric moments that this is just the right thing to do."

Twelve Horses customers will benefit from OTO's extensive media buying practice, LaPlante says. OTO also has an in-house research division that measures how people interact with brands.

"Our merger with Twelve Horses enhances and extends OTO into the type of unique firm brands seek in today's digital marketing landscape," OTO CEO Ian Karnell says.

Inc. Magazine recently ranked OTO Interactive, founded in 1997, as one of the nation's fastest-growing private companies.


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