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December 7, 2007

Avenue A employees not getting Microsoft benefits

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 8:01 AM

Here's the full text of the email Avenue A | Razorfish President Clark Kokich sent to employees Wednesday, informing them that they would not be getting Microsoft benefits, as reported in today's story.

From: Clark Kokich Sent: Wednesday, December 05, 2007 9:54 AM

Subject:

Hello to all:

I would like to let you know of some decisions we've made regarding our total rewards programs.

After several months of careful consideration, we have made the decision to decouple the programs for Avenue A I Razorfish and for Atlas/Drive. As you know, the two groups operate in completely different competitive environments. AA-RF competes within the marketing and technology services industry. We are an agency, while our sister divisions are software and media companies.

As aQuantive, we did our best to maintain one overall total rewards program that tried to balance the needs for these two different types of businesses in one corporate parent. This challenge became more and more difficult as each business matured. Now, as part of Microsoft, which is a mature company with very well-defined programs based on the software and media model, we believe it is no longer tenable for us to attempt to treat all parts of our business the same. It would mean causing AA|RF to conform so closely to the software and media model as to make it non-competitive within its own industry. In order to continue to succeed, we must design our total rewards system to match the expectations of our industry. This includes our approach to salary, benefits, bonus, titles, levels, tools, career development, and performance management.

In order to assure that we can continue to hire, retain, and reward the best people in our industry, we will be launching a competitive review of total rewards within the marketing and technology services industry. In addition, we will be conducting a number of focus groups with Avenue A I Razorfish people around the country to hear from you directly about what offerings you value the most. The combination of these activities will help ensure we understand clearly what we need to do to in order to compete for talent in our industry. This research and analysis will begin after the first of the year and will be completed in the spring.

All legacy aQuantive groups will continue on our existing programs through the first half of 2008. At that time (concurrent with the beginning of Microsoft's new fiscal year), we will make the change to a decoupled approach. Atlas, Drive and Franchise Gator employees will be fully integrated into the Microsoft total rewards program starting July 1, 2008. And at the same time AARF employees can expect to see changes to our own program, some right away and some over time, as we focus towards an agency-driven total rewards package.

I feel good about this direction. In the past we've on occasion made sub-optimal decisions in our desire to maintain one total rewards program across widely disparate businesses. We now have the opportunity to offer programs that will allow us to continue to build Avenue A I Razorfish by attracting the best and brightest in our industry.

Clark

I'd love to hear whether people think this is fair or justified. Add your comments below.

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Tricia Duryee
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Angel Gonzalez
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Kristi Heim
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Benjamin J. Romano
Benjamin J. Romano
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Mark Watanabe
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