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Tuesday, 4 April, 2000, 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK
Razorfish gains an edge

Few businesses have the confidence to say that they don't need to consider the competition.

Not only is there plenty of work for internet consultancy Razorfish, its strategic solutions director Mark Curtis says, there is also "no one in the UK able to offer the creative, design and strategic skills we have".

Razorfish is part of a wave of internet consultancies, who make their money from helping e-entrepreneurs as well as bricks-and-mortar companies to get their ideas online.

The companies that provide this advice have been hailed by pundits as the 'footsoldiers of the web revolution'.

Mr Curtis's comments may smack of complacency, but so far market response has been enthusiastic to the services Razorfish and its competitors offer.

Maintaining an edge

Razorfish is a US consultancy, which has grown its UK business by acquiring and merging a mix of UK design and advertising companies.

Since setting up shop in the UK two years ago, it has gained such high-profile and varied clients as the Spice Girls, NatWest, the Millennium Dome, the RAC, Shell, the Paramount Comedy Channel, American Express and British Aerospace.

Razorfish worked on the Spice Girls website
"The demand is still extremely high. The market for our kind of services is expanding at a rate of nearly 150% a year," Mr Curtis said.

"The only constraint on our growth is how quickly we wish to grow and how quickly we can find people," he explained.

The obvious competitors to a company such as Razorfish are the traditional management consultants. Many of these are now struggling to regain ground lost to the likes of Razorfish, who spotted e-commerce opportunities before they did.

"Traditional consultants are good at function and process...(but) they are simply not geared up to the creative side," Mr Curtis said.

While Razorfish's business might originally have centred on business-to-consumer sites, their client profile is changing.

About three quarters of their projects are business to consumer web site, with the rest made up of business to business clients and it is the latter which is growing.

Profits on the increase

Globally, Razorfish has 1,100 people and is headquartered in New York.

It has offices in Amsterdam, Boston, Hamburg, Helsinki, Los Angeles, London, Mannheim, New York, San Francisco, Stockholm and Oslo.

Mr Curtis's talk of continued growth is borne out by the figures.

In the fourth quarter of last year, Razorfish revenues rose to $52.7m - an increase of 1,015% over the $4.725m revenue for the same period of the previous year.

However, like many internet companies, Razorfish is still chalking up significant losses.

Nonetheless, these figures are matched by US investor enthusiasm for internet consultancies.

Luminant, Sapient and USWeb all operate in the same business space that Razorfish does.

Many of these companies have grown in a short space of time by acquisition. This fast growth has resulted in ecstatic stockmarket receptions for their initial public offerings - unlike those of many other web firms, which flopped on the markets.

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