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Ad firm intends to add 60 workers after shedding 50

Spot Runner, which boasts major backers, says the moves will reduce redundancies and allow it to grow.

August 14, 2008|Alana Semuels | Times Staff Writer

Spot Runner Inc., a Los Angeles-based advertising company that has raised at least $111 million in funding from media heavyweights, said Wednesday that it had laid off about 50 workers but planned to hire about 60 as part of a reorganization.

The 2-year-old company, initially created to focus on advertising for small businesses, said the moves were part of an effort to eliminate redundancies in its staffing as it expands in production of television commercials for nationally known brands and in online advertising.

The changes aren't related to the current economic situation, said spokeswoman Rosabel Tao, adding that the privately held company's revenue increased 50% from the first quarter to the second.

Seasoned entrepreneurs Nick Grouf and David Waxman launched Spot Runner in 2006. Local companies can hire the firm to design commercials using mostly pre-produced video footage and buy ad space on television for as little as $499.

Spot Runner's financial backers include some big names, such as CBS Corp., Interpublic Group of Cos. and Legg Mason Capital Management.

As its business grew, Spot Runner looked beyond local ads: Executives talked about expanding overseas and partnered with upscale national brands such as Groupe Arnault/LVMH.

Now, Tao says, Spot Runner is realigning its business to grow three categories: national marketing services, local marketing services and media platforms, which will develop technology to better serve clients such as ad agencies.

"We're ramping up the national," she said. "But we're not backing away from local."

The changes underscore how difficult it is for companies to prosper depending solely on advertising from small businesses, said Greg Sterling, an analyst with consulting firm Sterling Market Intelligence.

"A lot of these different online advertising vehicles and tools require people to develop some level of understanding and expertise, and that's asking for a certain level of behavioral change and time," he said.

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alana.semuels@latimes.com

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