Veteran Digital Agency Maintains Internal Ownership, Names John Cate CEO
SAN FRANCISCO — Mediasmith, a leading independent media agency, today announced a management buyout of agency co-founders David L. Smith and Karen McFee. Mediasmith has long been a self-sustaining force in the media strategy, planning, and buying world and is known for promoting programmatic buying and championing transparency for a roster of loyal clients. This will continue, and Mediasmith’s clients and employees will be unaffected by the buyout while benefiting from the evolution.
Mediasmith executives have set a strategy in motion that will solidify the agency’s success in the future. While many independent agencies have been acquired by holding companies or sidelined by walled gardens, Mediasmith has succeeded with a consultative, transparent approach. In the next phase of the company’s growth, executives will broaden and deepen strategic, consultative and educational capabilities to empower brand clients and differentiate from opaque competitors.
“Mediasmith is a unique, right-sized, media partner who sees the media landscape as mobile and digital first. They understand the value of our dollar and work tirelessly to find us the right customers, which has contributed to our phenomenal growth this year,” said Kevin Mayer, CMO at BJ’s Restaurants. “As a media firm, they have responsive A level players and use data and strategy to think through channels objectively to give us important guidance.”
“The day after we launched TBD we reached out to Mediasmith to help us pitch and win our first client,” said Jordan Warren, co-founder and CEO of TBD (a creative agency). “I’ve long admired Mediasmith’s commitment to remaining independent and appreciate that even while they have grown over the years, the agency principals remain actively involved in their clients’ businesses. I’ve always known them to be on the forefront of digital media planning and buying and was pleasantly surprised by their ability to stretch clients’ traditional media budgets to help them punch above their weight.”
John Cate, formerly COO at the agency, moves up to the CEO position. With extensive operational experience, Cate has more than 25 years in leadership roles at major agencies. Prior to joining Mediasmith, John was EVP and General Manager for Carat/Aegis PLC, and has held senior media roles at Leftfield, TBWA\Chiat\Day, and McCann-Erickson.
Former SVP Greg Pomaro will become EVP, Media and will serve as the management representative to the Mediasmith Board of Directors. Marcus Pratt, VP, Insights and Technology and Ryan Buensuceso, Finance Director, round out the new partnership.
Mediasmith founder David L. Smith will become Chairman and continue to help Mediasmith with innovation and new business development. Co-founder Karen McFee will retire from her active role but retain the Board Secretary role and her seat on the Mediasmith Board of Directors.
“Mediasmith has a history of innovation and transparency for our clients, which is why we’ve flourished. This legacy will serve the team well in the company’s next phase,” Smith said, “This passing of the mantle is a long overdue recognition of John having already stepped up to run Mediasmith on a day-to-day basis.”
“Mediasmith was founded nearly 30 years ago, before digital advertising existed. Today, we’re an independent leader in media innovation across digital channels,” said John Cate, former COO and newly appointed CEO. “The innovative spirit and dedication to client success that has propelled so many years of success will remain a guiding light for the leadership team and for our clients as we set our go-forward plan in motion.”
Established in 1989, Mediasmith is headquartered in San Francisco and has delivered success for clients including Nokia, Evernote, BMC Software, Salesforce, and BJ’s Restaurants.
Mediasmith makes impactful media simple. We are an independent media agency instilling thoughtful strategy and digital expertise into media implementation and analytics. As a fully integrated partner, we help brands across industries build contextual, individual customer connections. We are masters of modern media, partners in digital storytelling, and advocates of transparency, trust, and transformation.