Fast Lane: Digital Dealer 2011 Booth


Fast Lane: Cobalt’s First Dealer Appreciation Party

Last Tuesday, Cobalt hosted its first-ever Dealer Appreciation Party. The packed house included a fun mix of Cobalt / ADP Digital Marketing executives, dealers, employees, industry influencers, and press. Attendees enjoyed colorful speeches including a Cobalt history lesson from 15-year employee and Vice President of Social Media Matt Muilenburg, a glowing Cobalt testimonial from Auburn VW dealer Matt Welch, and an update from Chief Marketing Officer Chris Reed. The entire crowd was treated to dazzling views, delicious food and drinks and delightful conversation at Cobalt’s downtown Seattle headquarters. Auburn VW dealer Matt Welch won a trip to Digital Marketing Strategies Conference, Arun Vaidyanathan of Brotherton Cadillac took home an iPad, and Jay LeClair from Smokey Point Buick GMC won Seahawks tickets. The inaugural event provided the perfect kick-off to the Seattle PCG Pitstop the next day. Thanks to all who attended, and stay tuned for future events!

Check out the video too!

Taking Strides Against Breast Cancer

Setting out for a 60-mile walk

Setting out for a 60-mile walk

Five women from Cobalt, one with her daughter, are setting out on quite a journey today. 60 miles over the course of three days – on foot. They’re doing it for a good cause, one we’re all probably painfully familiar with. From today through Sunday, these women are walking the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for a Cure.

Services Coach Erika Myrick was there this morning to see it begin.

Walking through the University of Washington

Walking through the University of Washington

“I stood on the corner this morning waiting for each wave of women to walk by so that I could catch a glimpse of these strong Cobalt women beginning their journey of strength, resiliency and courage,” Erika recalled.  “Two of our women are Breast Cancer survivors.  I was so emotional, along with everyone else cheering these thousands of women on.  By the time my friends walked up I was already crying.  It was amazing!”

In the weeks and months leading up to the 3-day walk, these women reached out to family, friends and colleagues to raise thousands of dollars. The five women walking from Cobalt are Account Advocates Angie Weber, Aimee Soileau, and Christine Rockney-Sidhu, Receptionist Keisha Gayles, and Advocate Manager Cindy Scillo. Cindy’s daughter Brianna is also walking with them.

Closing Ceremonies

Closing Ceremonies

You can keep up to date with the team’s progress on the “Keeping Abreast” team Facebook Page.

“It is so moving to me – the cause, the team, the stories, we all have them,” Erika said. “My grandmother had Breast Cancer, and we lost her to cancer several years ago.  My dear friend battled and triumphantly beat it!  The list goes on.  These women represent so much for me today.”

In the fight against breast cancer, taking strides like this represents so much for all of us. We’re all proud of you, ladies!

One Year Later – A Message From John Holt

John Holt

John Holt - ADP Digital Marketing

Now that a year has passed since we sold Cobalt to ADP, I’d like to celebrate the anniversary and give you a sense for how things have gone and what’s coming next.

I have to admit, a year ago was a bewildering time.  Selling Cobalt was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life, and keeping my head straight in the weeks before and after the deal was difficult.

We, all of us, took the high road by opening our arms up and inviting our new colleagues to look over our shoulders and develop enthusiasm for the cool stuff we’re doing. Feeling welcome, ADP’ers have come out here often, to learn and, yes, to take some of the things we do and the ways we do things back home and try them on for size. We’ve benefitted from their influence too as we’ve learned about their approaches to review and planning.

In other words, there’s been two-way osmosis, a true cultural exchange.

Now, a year later, I can say we’ve done just about everything we promised to do. We did a darn good job meeting our financial targets, we launched even more products and services than we said we would, we got way down the road on the key integration tasks, and we have unbelievably interesting and challenging work lined up to do this year and the next after that.

Cobalt's new HQ

Our new Seattle HQ

We moved to all-new headquarters in Seattle, combining our entire Puget Sound team in a showcase facility that contributes meaningfully to our work and offers compelling opportunities for employees to use public transportation, utilize downtown resources, work out and get healthier, and eat interesting food on a daily basis.

We’ve added dozens of development resources around the world, one of the reasons our product delivery rate has improved, and it should continue to get better as these development resources are still coming online.

Via ADP and BZ Results, we now have an opportunity to serve dealer groups.  There are lots of dealer groups out there and they spend a disproportionate amount of the industry’s ad spend. Getting this right is necessary to fuel our growth, enhance our reputation, and play a key role helping ADP drive its growth in the automotive vertical. I can promise you we will get it right.

Dealix has made significant progress turning and the used car lead generation effort into a major growth initiative.  ADP recognized this diversification and growth opportunity very early last fall, granting Dealix the needed funds to accelerate the development of  The Dealix team has responded by hitting the mark on every planned aspect of the investment. Within three years, will be nearing the size of one of the top ten automotive portals.

We are going to be a global business.  I’m really pleased to tell you that just last week ADP leaders agreed to fund the globalization of the ADP Digital Marketing platform.  We’re now forming a scoping team and work will begin in earnest this month.

We’re making progress on developing an end-to-end vision that will provide consumers with a seamless shopping and buying experience, dealership personnel with an integrated suite of products and services that will create a seamless and efficient workflow, and insightful analytics that will take the guessing out of what advertising works, and doesn’t work.  Math and science will win, and no one will understand as much about each moment in the purchase funnel than ADP.

ADP Headquarters

ADP Headquarters in Roseland, New Jersey

A final point (though I could go on): we are now employees at one of the strongest and most financially stable companies on the planet.  While the United States has lost its triple AAA-rated status, ADP still has it, and they’re one of four such companies.  There’s just no question that we enjoy safety through diversification of risk that Cobalt didn’t have as an independent company.

As I look ahead, I am very pleased with the road we’ve traveled, but even more excited about what’s coming next.  We are changing how advertising works in the largest consumer vertical on the planet. We continue to do things that have never ever been done before. And now we’re going to have an opportunity to strut our stuff on a global stage with the active support of a company that can make us even more successful, and faster.  I have lots of confidence in our ability to win and win right, but it’s going to take extraordinary commitment and dedication to be the very best.

The men and women of ADP Digital Marketing

The men and women of ADP Digital Marketing

As summer winds to a close, enjoy Labor Day weekend. Next week will have a back-to-school feel to it and we’re going to need to step things up a notch now that summer’s over. There’s tons to do and many balls to juggle but I know the men and women of ADP Digital Marketing  – in Seattle, in Redwood City, in Coventry, in Pune, in Bangalore, in Hoffmann, in El Paso, and in hundreds of private homes – will be up to it. And I know we have ADP solidly behind us as we forge a path through this brave new world.

Happy anniversary, thank you, and my best,

John Holt
ADP Digital Marketing

One for the Pensieve

Last night was just a little case of “mischief managed.”

Fans have been ready for this for months, and on July 14, they lined up outside their favorite movie theatre hours before midnight, to be the first to see the final chapter in the story of a certain young wizard: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

Cobalt Audience at Cinerama

Who's ready to see Harry Potter? Put your hands up!

So it was just a little bit of a guilty pleasure when 680 Cobalt employees and their families and friends got to walk right by those waiting on the sidewalk outside the historic Cinerama Theatre in Downtown Seattle.  Thanks to a special arrangement through ADP, Cinerama, and Warner Brothers, these lucky Cobaltians were able to sit down hours before to see the movie event of the 2011 summer.

John Holt was still gushing about it the next day. “Wasn’t that so cool?” he asked before an all-hands company meeting on Friday morning.  Holt brought his wife and daughters with him to the movie, and many others did the same – wives and husbands, boyfriends and girlfriends, sons and daughters were all in attendance.

Those attending were also treated to free popcorn and a giant balloon dragon made just for the event, with photos being taken courtesy of Fire Eyes Photography.

Senior Product Manager Andy Largent, a longtime Cobaltian and a diehard Harry Potter fan, brought his wife too.  They both loved the movie and are already making plans to see it again.

Mischief Managed

SEO Specialist Kaylani and her sister sporting her handmade Hogwarts ties.

It’s Cobalt, so of course costumes were encouraged – some of the kids dressed up in full Hogwarts regalia (choosing their favorite house, of course!) and SEO Specialist Kaylani Shipley even made special Hogwarts ties. She went with her sister, feeling “important” as she passed those waiting for the midnight show and describing the ending of the movie as “epic.”

The verdict? It’s a bittersweet ending, as it is the last of a series loved by so many.  But in the words of John Holt, “It’s a really good movie.”

A great movie, free popcorn, and excellent company to share it with – can’t ask for much more than that!

Photographs provided by Trishann Couvillion –

Red, White, and (Cobalt) Blue: Why we Sponsor Seattle’s Fireworks

Fireworks at Lake Union

Family 4th Fireworks at Lake Union

The Family 4th at Lake Union, organized by One Reel, has come to be an integral part of the Fourth of July celebrations in Seattle for more than twenty years. At Cobalt, we know that the Fourth of July just would not be the same without the “ooos” and “ahhhs” the Family 4th has given us and our children for so many years. More than that, we work to support it.

It began last year, when one Cobalt associate heard that the Family 4th was at risk, and sent a concerned email to Cobalt CEO, John Holt. He fully supported the event with some special reasons of his own – over twenty years ago, after the Fourth of July fireworks, a younger Mr. Holt knelt down on one knee and proposed to his wife. They were married after the same show a year later.

Family 4th

Cobalt joined many local Seattle businesses in supporting the Family 4th in 2010. This year we’re on board again.  As John Holt said in an email to the company, “While this may not be as noble as some of the other things we support via our charitable contributions, it does contribute to the quality of life in Seattle.”


Guest author: Nikita Pitkar

Cobalt and ADP together have always been aimed at making their communities a better place, which is why we continue our support  of a central part of our city’s culture.

We hope to see you at the show!

Happy Fourth of July!

Cobalt around town: The Jackson Plaza Re-opening

The new Jackson Plaza

The new Jackson Plaza

Paved a Parking Lot, Put up a (Zen) Paradise

This past Friday, the crowd gathered, the cameras flashed, and the Ballard Sedentary Sousa Band struck up a jazzy tune. The occasion? The renovation of the all-new Jackson Plaza, the latest in the city’s urban renewal efforts.  The sun peeked out from behind the clouds just in time for Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn to hoist some giant scissors and cut the red ribbon to officially open Jackson Plaza to the public.

The plaza is located directly in front of Seattle’s historic landmark and transportation hub King Street Station, only about a block away from Cobalt HQ. The plaza has been under construction for more than a year, and now it’s an ideal spot for Cobaltians to take their lunch for a relaxing break in the sun.  There’s no vendors or businesses there yet, so it’s like a small oasis in the middle of one of the most bustling sections of the city.

Just a small part of life in the big city!

Jackson Plaza Grand Opening