DNA’s Chris Witherspoon and Alan Brown buy majority stake
The Seattle-based DNA agency has new owners, sort of.
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Alan Brown, co-founder and CEO, and Chris Witherspoon, president and chief growth officer, bought the majority of the shares of co-founder and chairman Dan Gross. As part of the transition, Witherspoon, who previously owned shares in the company and has now increased his stake, will become CEO and Brown will assume the role of chairman. Gross will retain a stake in the company and continue to serve on its board of directors.
Subsequently, the 23-year-old agency’s press release states, “DNA is now a minority owned and run agency, with Chris Witherspoon becoming one of the few black agency CEOs and Alan Brown one of the few. rare gay agency presidents “.
Movements are important in an industry where diversity is woefully insufficient. According to a 2020 survey of 4A of 165 agencies representing more than 40,000 employees, only 4% of Blacks and African Americans in the industry hold vice-president titles or higher. Similar statistics for LGBTQ + leaders were not readily available; 4A did not respond to a request on time.
Witherspoon, a founding member of advocacy group 600 & Rising, and chairman of the board of Building Leaders and Creators, a coalition of agencies that promotes inclusion in business through student internships, says diversity of ownership is essential to have a significant impact on the changes.
“A lot of agencies, and I think the role is important, need to bring in diversity managers to focus,” Witherspoon said. “I think as owners it’s a role we play because at the end of the day we look at our agency and make sure it’s as diverse as possible, and we create a place and a culture where people can express themselves fully in the office, no matter where they are from or where they come from. It places responsibility and responsibility on us as owners. While sometimes in other places you see a person come in and that’s the role. It’s the distinction and an opportunity to have such a diverse ownership group. ”