A month ago, you may recall, Chicago-based marketing vet Zain Raj, fresh off of a stint as CEO of Irving, TX-based CRM/digital agency Epsilon Agency Services, acquired independent marketing research firm, Shapiro, in January, which ultimately led to the formation of Shapiro + Raj. The operation, though, has hit somewhat of a snag, as Raj is entangled in litigation with a former employer according to a memo we obtained that Shapiro + Raj president Owen Shapiro sent to staff earlier this week. The note from Shapiro, who says that his nearly 60-year-old company “continues to be a world leader in conducting behavior and opinion research,” should provide some insight. Seems to us like they’re just trying to do the right thing until this all boils over.
“As you know, Zain Raj recently joined our company. Subsequent to Zain joining us, Zain’s former employer filed a lawsuit against Zain claiming that Zain violated the terms of his employment agreement with his former employer. Our Company has unwillingly been dragged into that lawsuit. While we believe that our Company has not done anything wrong, an Order has been issued by the court which prohibits Zain from engaging in any business on behalf of our Company, including all work, business meetings, transactions, acquisitions, and client interactions.
Out of an abundance of caution so as not to violate the court’s Order, you are not to have any contact with Zain until otherwise notified by me or Matthew. To the extent that you receive a communication from Zain, do not respond and you are to notify me or Matthew immediately. If any third party contacts you about Zain or about the lawsuit, you are to contact me or Matthew.
If asked by a client or other person you feel needs to know about this situation, please refer them to me or Matthew and we will discuss the situation with them.
When information becomes available, we will update you on the progress in resolving this matter. In the meantime, we are proceeding with development of the Company and work for our clients.
The Matthew that Shapiro is referring to is Matthew Smith, who was president of Shapiro but has now moved up to vice chairman. As for Raj, prior to his brief stint as CEO of Epsilon (we’re confirming that this is who filed the lawsuit), the exec led the Hyper Marketing group of marketing services companies, which morphed into SolutionSet and eventually SolutionSet/MediaWhiz. Of course, he’s got plenty of agency experience as he’s held senior level/exec roles at what were Euro RSCG and FCB and also worked on the account side at the likes of JWT. Let’s just hope the dust settles and Shapiro + Raj officially gets the ball rolling.