Can there be a positive spin to the crashing Web economy? There is if you are Aldous Mitchell, managing director of Web Developer InterServ, a company thriving from rescue packages being offered to the staffing talent put on the market when competitors go bust.
Mitchell, through a long relationship with former Zivo general manager Peter Day, managed to snap up 12 ex-Zivo staff after its parent company, LibertyOne went into administration last year, and claims to be already seeing the financial benefits. Mitchell said the staff has attracted enough new business to warrant the 16 new pay cheques he has to write out every month.
"Three of four weeks ago I might not have been so confident, but in the last few weeks we picked up two large contracts and are speaking to a whole lot more [potential customers]," he said.
InterServ has signed on several new customers through the Zivo connections, including former Zivo customers National Foods and Caronel.
Mitchell said InterServ picked up a good blend of management, sales and creative staff from Zivo, but the biggest rewards have resulted from the hiring of new technical developers. "Bringing in customers is not their only asset, they also are satisfying our existing customers," he said.
Mitchell believes the reason many development firms are failing is because resources were not allocated in alignment with new projects, but were instead spent under the assumption the company would continue to grow indefinitely.
"We grow fairly conservatively, we're not out raising cash and throwing 100 staff in a room and expecting business to just walk through the door," he said. "We are only growing when we get projects in. So there is no need to down-size when sales figures aren't met."
And Zivo won't be the last dot-bomb becoming a hot market for new InterServ employees. With MarchFirst officially going bankrupt this month, Mitchell is already typing up offers and making phone calls to see what talent is worth pursuing at what is left of its Australian operations. Similarly, he is looking to hire from those staff made redundant at entertainment portals Scape and Spike and eBusiness peer the Sausage Group.
"I don't think things will improve until the third quarter of this year," he said. "There will be more casualties yet."Photograph: InterServ's Aldous Mitchell