Magnet 360, the fast-growing marketer, has raised $1.6 million in additional equity from existing investors to support a growth surge, bringing the total investment to about $5 million.

The four-year-old company, with about 40 clients including Häagen-Dazs, Digi, Allianz North America, 3M and Cargill, employs 85 people in Minneapolis and New York, where it opened an office in 2011. It expects to open offices in San Francisco and Chicago this year.

In an interview, managing partner Scott Litman said the client list is expanding, the partnership with is working, and that the firm expects to grow from about $17 million in revenue in 2012 to $25 million this year.

“It’s OK to be on planes, but it’s better to be there locally,” Litman said.

Magnet 360 was launched in 2008 by veteran digital marketers Litman and Dan Mallin with about $3 million invested by Chairman Skip Gage, a veteran marketer whose Gage Marketing was a charter member of Magnet 360.

The other investors in this third round of capital raising include, StarTec Investments and several individuals.

“We’re pretty excited about our growth, the jobs we’re creating, the partnership we have with a market leader like and how we’re producing really innovative solutions for some of the world’s best companies,” Litman said. “There’s a robust market for digital marketing services and we use … to help us engage with our customer’s audience, either business or consumers.”

Ex-pilot now pens thrillers

Phil Donlay, a former $150,000-a-year corporate pilot for PepsiAmericas, was forced from the cockpit in 2008 by rheumatoid arthritis.

The Twin Cities resident had a disability insurance policy that provided about half his old salary, and he decided to turn his avocation for fiction writing into a career.

Donlay, 56, has self-published a couple of thrillers, starting when he was still flying. The latest of his aviation-themed novels, “Zero Separation,” was released this month by Oceanview Publishing, along with accolades from a couple of New York Times bestselling fiction authors. Donlay had well-attended book signings recently at the downtown Minneapolis Barnes & Noble, Once Upon a Crime and other bookstores and is in the middle of a several-city book tour.

“It took awhile to get through the changes in my life,” said Donlay, a frank, grateful man who also has survived heart surgery. “I went from being the captain to just a guy in 12A. Writing had been kind of a hobby. Now it gives me an identity and a purpose. I’m not getting rich from writing. But it saved me.”

In the book, leading man Donovan Nash is caught between an emotionally compromised FBI agent who knows his secret and a brutal terrorist bent on igniting war in the Middle East. Some of the action takes place aboard a private jet over Washington, D.C. — territory Donlay knows well.

Short takes

HealthPartners is the highest-ranked insurance plan in the Minnesota and Wisconsin region in overall member experience, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 U.S. Member Health Plan Study.

The venerable survey company, which ranks all kinds of products and organizations, gathers consumer feedback on health plans nationwide every year. Consumers rate overall member experience based on seven factors: coverage and benefits, provider choice, information and communication, claims processing, statements, customer service and the approval process.

“Our organization is focused on making people healthier, making health care more affordable and creating the best possible experiences for patients and members,” CEO Mary Brainerd said in response. “It is exciting for us to know that our efforts are not only being noticed, but standing out.” HealthPartners, based in Bloomington, also operates hospitals and clinics and is the process of merging with Park Nicollet Health Services.


Glassdoor, a job search website, has completed its second annual list of the highest rated chief executives. CEO Richard Davis of Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp ranks ninth, according to Glassdoor, which relies on anonymous ratings from employees. Davis, an even-keeled guy who manages what is considered one of the better-run financial companies in the country, moved up from No. 13 last year.

No other Minnesota CEO made the list. At the top of this year’s list was Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose approval rating increased 14 percentage points from last year. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, was tops in the first list but dropped to 18th this year. Glassdoor asks employees whether they approve or disapprove of the way their CEO is leading the company. More info at:



Connect Minnesota last week said 78 percent of Minnesota households — or 3.2 million adults — now subscribe to broadband service at home, up from 72 percent in 2011. One of the biggest jumps was in mobile broadband usage, which increased by 12 percentage points.

Among the key findings of the residential survey: About 370,000 Minnesotans say they do not subscribe to home broadband service because they don’t feel that broadband is relevant to them, or they don’t believe they would benefit from having broadband at home. Within the past year, mobile Internet use has increased from 39 percent to 51 percent across the state. The freedom to access the Internet while away from home is the main reason why Minnesotans are subscribing to mobile broadband service on their cellphones.