Posted 6/17/2013 12:00 am
Arkansas Business 20th Annual 40 Under Forty
• The original Class of 2009 profiles
• 2013 Updates from this week's digital edition of Arkansas Business.
Kenny Tomlin and his brainchild Rockfish Interactive have been on a roll the past four years.
Tomlin, founder and CEO of the fast-growing digital innovation company, was a 36-year-old member of the Arkansas Business 40 Under 40 Class of 2009. At that time, northwest Arkansas-based Rockfish, based in Rogers, had just opened a second office in Dallas and had 50 employees.
The company has since grown to 200 employees at seven locations and was sold to a major buyer.
“A lot since 2009,” Tomlin, 40, said when asked what had been happening recently. In 2011, London-based WPP, a global communications services group, purchased Rockfish for an undisclosed amount.
“I think it’s a variety of things,” Tomlin said about the genesis of the sale. “We weren’t trying to sell, but in 2011 almost every major agency holding company began to reach out to Rockfish. Our business had grown significantly. We saw WPP as being fuel on that fire, so to speak.”
The WPP acquisition gives Rockfish a global reach and “scaleability,” Tomlin said, while allowing the company to continue to do what it does best.
“They didn’t come in and try to change our company or change our leadership,” Tomlin said. “It allowed us to continue growing.”
Tomlin, who had already begun building Internet ventures and done similar work for Wal-Mart before founding Rockfish in 2005, said the growth of the Internet has provided both challenges and opportunities for Rockfish. “The biggest transition is the Internet being a marketing tool to the Internet being a transformational enterprise,” Tomlin said.
Wrinkles like cloud-based computing and software and smartphones putting Internet connections in the hands of customers have been “huge” for the company, Tomlin said. “The Internet has to be integrated in everything you do, which has created lots of opportunities for a company like Rockfish.”