Icon Medialab History

Jani Tarvainen
3 min readNov 14, 2015

Icon Medialab was one of the largest internet consultancies during the IT bubble. The company was founded by Johan Staël von Holstein and his partners in Stockholm in the year 1996. The company went public in 1999 and continued rapid expansion with a US $70 million dollar investment to the asian market in 2000.

This is how Icon Medialab described itself:

Icon Medialab is a world leader in developing new business opportunities and e-Business solutions for our clients — across all Internet platforms and devices. We are known for our global expertise, high quality standards, advanced work processes, leading-edge technology development methods and no-nonsense reliability.

Icon Medialab devises common sense and user-friendly solutions that bring your e-business to market quickly and with a measure of quality that makes your company stand out from the crowd.

At it’s peak the company had over 2000 employees in 31 offices in cities around the globe: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Basel, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Geneva, Gothenburg, Hamburg, Helsinki, Hong Kong, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Malmö, Melbourne, Milan, Munich, New York, Oslo, Paris, San Francisco, Shanghai, Singapore, St Louis, Stockholm, Sydney, Tampere, Vienna and Washington DC.

The company was one of the first to complement hard IT knowhow with ad agency and human dimensions. The company employed people with skills in behavioural sciences, copywriting skills, management consulting, interface design, analysis of site statistics. All the ingredients that are necessary for creating a truly functioning web business.

Technology wise the company was a diverse setup using various technologies. In the front end JavaScript powered DHTML was heavily in use and on the server side the company offered built with Java, various Microsoft technologies. The company had many partnerships, such as:

  • Compaq: Hardware
  • Intershop: eCommerce
  • Oracle: Databases
  • HP: e-business solutions
  • Interwoven: Content Management
  • Vignette: Content Management
  • Escenic: Media publishing
  • Luvit: e-learning solutions
  • Rational: development processes
  • Intel: Technical architectures
  • Microsoft: General solutions partner

Even Perl and PHP had their place, even though the company was not widely known as an open source advocate.

The company merged with Lost Boys in 2002 and later changed it’s name to LB Icon AB. In 2006 the company merged with Framfab and changed it’s name to LBI International AB. Icon Medialab name is nowadays only used in context to the Madrid and Milano offices of LBI International.

Johan Staël von Holstein and Jonas Birgersson (a former CEO of Framfab) became icons of the Swedish Internet business. Von Holstein became a celebrity and had opinions about everything, including (but not limited to) the Swedish Prime Minister, the Wallenberg family and women in the business world. In 1999 he wrote a book about himself and received the Amelia EQ prize.

Financial results (turnover / result in Swedish Krona) of Icon Medialab from 1996 to 2003:

  • 1996: 4,49 million SEK / –5,06 million SEK
  • 1997: 43,1 million SEK / –24,7 million SEK
  • 1998: 131,6 million SEK / –34,1 million SEK
  • 1999: 416,6 million SEK / –299 million SEK
  • 2000: 1 700,2 million SEK
  • 2001: 1 186,3 million SEK
  • 2002: 653,0 million SEK / –440,8 million SEK
  • 2003: 481,6 million SEK / –66,3 million SEK