Ad firm to stay at Tide Point extends the lease for its headquarters after regional search

February 23, 2007|By Stacey Hirsh | Stacey Hirsh,Sun reporter Inc., the Baltimore company that started with an idea in a college dormitory room and was bought three years ago by America Online Inc., will remain a corporate fixture along the city's waterfront - though it might also expand elsewhere as it grows, the company said yesterday.

The online marketing and advertising company has reached an agreement to extend its lease at its Tide Point headquarters in Locust Point. With its lease set to expire late this year, the growing technology company underwent a competitive search process that included Baltimore and the surrounding area, as well as in the Washington area, said Lynda M. Clarizio, president of

The company also considered the area around Dulles, Va., where parent AOL is headquartered, she said.

But company employees wanted to stay in Tide Point, where leases 60,000 square feet of office space.

"The view that I got from the majority of employees is that they really liked being in Tide Point, and they wanted to remain there," Clarizio said. "I really felt like Tide Point and Locust Point are really part of the culture and the fabric of"

But as the company continues to grow, it is also looking for more space in and around the city, said Scott Yinger,'s chief financial officer. Yinger said it is too soon to say when the company might need additional space. has 435 employees around the country, including 300 in Baltimore. An additional 80 contractors work for the company in Baltimore.

While the company did not quantify its growth plans, there are more than three dozen local job postings on its Web site, from account manager to legal coordinator to senior technical recruiter. A posting for a director of affiliate publisher relations lists a salary range of $90,000 to $100,000.

"The company has been growing, and our expectations are that it is going to continue to grow both in terms of revenue and staff, both inside and outside of Baltimore, and I think we're just going to have to make sure we've got the space both in and around Baltimore to run the business from here," Yinger said. "It's not that we have a desire to take space out of Tide Point, it's just a matter of whether Tide Point can accommodate the growth that we need."

M.J. "Jay" Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp., the city's economic development arm, said in an e-mail yesterday that did not receive any incentives to stay in Baltimore . He added that he was "delighted" with the company's decision, which was discussed at a BDC board meeting yesterday.

Founded in 1998 by Owings Mills brothers John and Scott Ferber, grew out of a technology that John Ferber was using to run advertisements on the Internet for an online game that he invented in college. John Ferber,'s former chief product officer, and his brother, Scott, former chief executive officer, sold the company in 2004 to AOL for $435 million, with each brother getting about $70 million each before taxes. The company announced in May that the Ferber brothers were taking leaves of absence.

Bob Rubenkonig, communications director for Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, the landlord at Tide Point, echoed Brodie's sentiment about the company's decision.

"All of us at Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse are very pleased that is committed to the city of Baltimore," Rubenkonig said. "It's fantastic businesses like that make Tide Point a great mixed-use waterfront campus."

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