New Acxiom CEO Seeks To Bring Focus to Firm

by Jamie Walden  on Monday, Jul. 21, 2008 12:00 am  

In an exclusive interview with Arkansas Business, John Meyer details his changes at and plans for Acxiom.

"We are looking at growing a center in China. It's a giant market. They're just starting to get started in marketing. We have a very good footprint with our existing organization, and we're looking to grow it," Meyer said.

The expansion will occur sometime within the next year and will add jobs, Meyer said. The business unit will be centered on analytics initially and then perhaps expand into other functions.

Tackling a Tough Economy

With the recent troubles in the financial industry, Meyer expects much of the company's growth to come from expansion in other sectors, such as automotive, insurance and retail.

Meyer said the tough economy has made things easier, though.

Meyer, taking advantage of what he described as lowered expectations in a sluggish economy, has sold off the company airplanes and the Chenal and Riverdale facilities and relocated the affected Arkansas employees to the Conway or downtown Little Rock offices.

As for the mergers and acquisitions side of the company's growth strategy, Meyer said he would much rather be a grower and a builder.

"I actually think that when you have to buy a technology or a capability, that's a reflection on the management not being smart enough or not willing enough to take the risk to develop it themselves. It just shows that you missed your opportunity in the market," Meyer said, adding that most acquisitions don't work.

Speaking of acquisitions that don't work: "Truthfully, having a private equity deal blow up was a good thing for me," he said.

Meyer said he wouldn't have wanted the responsibility of turning around a company with $2 billion in debt, but heading a company with $600 million in debt leaves him a little financial muscle to reposition the firm.

He added that "the worst thing to do is to go into a situation that's running perfectly, because there's only one direction to take it."

As for the stock price, which has suffered from the failed $3 billion go-private deal with Silver Lake Partners and ValueAct Capital, dwindling from $28.09 a share in May 2007 to $11.44 a share last Wednesday, Meyer said: "It needs to go up."



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