Sapient

A globe-spanning entity

Founded in 1990, Sapient is a global services firm that operates two business lines: Sapient Interactive and Sapient Consulting.  Predictably, the interactive side of the business deals with all things, well, interactive (such as marketing, website development, media planning and buying, and the like).  The consulting side of the business, meanwhile, advises clients on business and IT strategy, customer relationships, supply chain, web solutions, data warehousing, marketing strategy and much more besides.  It also boasts outsourcing capabilities, having developed and maintained outsourcing relationships with over 300 global clients since its inception.

Serving industries from the financial services sector to government, and from media and entertainment to retail and consumer products, Sapient's client list is as extensive as it is impressive.  While it boasts companies of the stature of Barnes and Noble, Sony and Ferrari among its clients, the firm has specifically provided its business and IT strategy services to the likes of energy firm AGL Resources, as well as federal clients such as the U.S. Marine Corps and the Department of Justice.  In addition to its 13 U.S. offices, meanwhile, the company operates in a seven other countries throughout Europe and Asia, with three offices in India alone.

Rolling with the punches

Back when it first got its start, Sapient's offerings were nowhere near as elaborate as they are now; they were confined mainly to client and server solutions.  From that base, though, the company rode the wave of 1990s tech boom, adding internet consulting and systems development to its capabilities.  Like many companies in the tech field, however, the firm came back to earth with a bump in the aftermath of the bubble-burst in 2001.  That year, the firm cut around a third of its U.S. workforce, while also branching out into outsourcing in India.  The following years saw Sapient slowly rebuild its operations, with a greater focus on interactive marketing and web-based applications systems, and it has consistently increased its revenue ever since.

Taking stock

Another thing that Sapient had in common with many of its peers in the early 2000s was the emergence of a scandal related to the backdating of stock options.  Evidence of a problem first arose publicly in August 2006, when the firm announced that its board's audit committee, with the help of outside agencies and forensic accountants, had launched an internal investigation into Sapient's stock-based compensation practices over the course of the previous decade.

Even before the investigations had been concluded, the firm had reshuffled its management.  Out went CFO Sue Cooke and co-founder, Chairman and CEO Jerry A. Greenberg in October 2006.  Former Novell CFO Joseph S. Tibbets Jr. replaced Cooke, while Sapient Executive Vice President Alan J. Herrick took over the CEO's chair.  Both remain in their positions today.

The voluntary investigation only continued for one more month, with the audit committee reporting in November 2006 that several irregularities had been found in the pricing of stock option grants awarded between 1996 and 2001, many of which had to do with the backdating of options.  Unsurprisingly, given their recent departures, the committee also reported that Cooke and Greenberg had participated in issuing the options.

The affair wasn't quite over, however, as the SEC stepped in with its own review of Sapient's stock option grant practices.  Happily for the firm, that investigation drew to a close in August 2008 without the SEC recommending any enforcement action be taken against it.

Stockholm syndrome

While many competitors were struggling in the 2008 economic downturn and looking for ways to cut costs, Sapient was out finding new markets to tap into.  The firm began by opening a new office in Stockholm, Sweden, in March 2008, a move that increased its footprint in Scandinavia, a region where the firm reports an increasing client base.  According to Sapient Europe's Managing Director and Vice President Dr. Christian Oversohl, "The Nordic region is an important market [for Sapient] because it is home to several large multi-national companies, which are typically early adopters and drivers of innovative IT and interactive solutions."

In a further move to expand its European footprint, the firm acquired London-based Derivatives Consulting Group ) in August 2008.  While the name of that firm may cause some bankers to shudder, having been the very financial instruments that contributed to the economic meltdown, the group specializes in providing derivatives consulting and outsourcing services to investment banks, hedge funds and banking clients, rather than, say, making wildly speculative investments in derivatives markets.  Theoretically that's good news for Sapient, as the acquisition adds those specialties to its roster of services.  The bad news?  It's impossible to say how many of the clients DCG brought with it will be left standing by the time the crisis and accompanying recession are over.

The buddy system

A key part of Sapient's methodology is to partner with other organizations as it seeks to align marketing and IT strategies for clients.  Accordingly, the firm has an agreement with the Kellogg School of Management that has led to the two authoring studies together.  Most recently, in April 2008, the company extended its strategic partnership with Art Technology Group, an e-commerce specialist.  Having worked closely together on e-commerce and Web marketing projects for leading brands, the companies extended their partnership to tap global target markets.  The partnership brings together ATG's e-commerce platform with Sapient's experience in using it to improve marketing, merchandising and sales for clients.

Gathering gongs

Sapient picked up a couple of awards that cemented its reputation as an employer of choice in 2008.  First, in June, it was honored as one of five consulting firms to receive Consulting magazine's first annual achievement award for excellence in diversity.  That was followed up in November when the company was named in The Boston Globe's 100 Top Place to Work list.  While restricted to businesses in Massachusetts, the award takes into account employee opinions on such matters as company leadership, compensation, diversity, values, ethics and more.  Part of the reason the firm's Massachusetts employees may have been so effusive with their praise is that the company relocated its headquarters in May 2008, moving from its ancestral home in nearby Cambridge into Boston's chi-chi Back Bay area.



Sapient


131 Dartmouth Street
3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02116
Phone: (617) 621-0200
Fax: (617) 621-1300
www.sapient.com

STATS


  • Employer Type: Public
  • Stock Symbol: SAPE
  • Stock Exchange: NASDAQ
  • President & CEO: Alan J. Herrick
  • 2011 Employees: 8,000

Major Office Locations

  • Melbourne , Australia
  • Brisbane, Australia
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Toronto, Canada
  • Shanghai, China
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Denver, CO
  • Washington, DC
  • Miami, FL
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Kansas City, KS
  • Boston, MA
  • New York, NY
  • Houston, TX
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Moscow, Russia
  • Singapore, Singapore
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Zurich, Switzerland
  • Geneva, Switzerland
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Munich, Germany
  • Dusseldorf, Germany
  • Noida , India
  • Bangalore, India
  • New Delhi, India
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