WPP invests in VR/AR company Within Unlimited in the US

wppWPP has made a strategic investment in Within Unlimited, Inc., a US-based virtual reality/augmented reality entertainment and technology company

Within creates and produces virtual reality content and also curates content from third parties, which it distributes through the Within app.

Partners and content collaborators include Apple, The New York Times, NBC Universal, Vice, 21st Century Fox, and Alphabet Inc. Within employs over 35 people and is based in Los Angeles with an office in San Francisco. It was founded in 2014. Within is led by film maker and music video director Chris Milk and technologist Aaron Koblin.

UK, London & USA, Los Angeles, CA

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Sizmek to Acquire Rocket Fuel for $125.5M

SismekSizmek, an advertising technology company owned by PE firm Vector Capital, is to acquire Rocket Fuel a technology company that offers a Predictive Marketing Platform designed to help marketers & their agencies connect with consumers through digital media, for $125.5 million, or $2.60 per share in cash, valuing Rocket Fuel at approximately $145 million. Rocket Fuel trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the ticker symbol “FUEL.

“The acquisition of Rocket Fuel brings omni-channel creativity and AI-enabled decisioning together under one roof, providing our clients with a self-service predictive marketing platform that optimizes campaigns across the entire media plan,” said Dr. Mark Grether, Executive Chairman of Sizmek.

Collectively, Sizmek and Rocket Fuel service more than 20,000 advertisers and 3,600 agencies to global audiences in over 70 countries.

Rocket Fuel Inc revenues fell 1.16% in FY 2016 compared to FY 2015 to 456.26m. It made net losses of $66 million, compared to a loss of $211 million in 2015. Rocket Fuel’s net loss, adjusted for depreciation and amortisation, is expected to be between $4 million and $3 million in the second quarter of this year.

USA, New York, NY

Grey acquires full-service digital agency Sensio in France

wppWPP’s wholly-owned operating company Grey has acquired a majority stake in Extrême-Sensio in France. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Sensio is a full service digital agency that offers services including consulting, design, technology and customer acquisition. Founded in 1998, the agency has around 75 people and is headquartered in Paris. Clients include Groupe PSA, AXA, E.Leclerc, Futuroscope, Häagen Dazs and Nexity. Sensio’s revenues were approximately €7.7 million for the year ended 31 December 2016 with gross assets of approximately €5.7 million as at the same date. The company is listed as one of the “Growth Champions” by Les Echos / Statista, and features in the Financial Times’ “1000 Fastest Growing Companies”.

UK, London & France, Paris

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Taptica Acquires Majority Holding in Adinnovation

Taptica, a global end-to-end mobile advertising platform for advertising agencies and brands, has acquired a majority shareholding in Adinnovation Inc., a Japanese mobile advertising agency, for up to $5.7 million.

Taptica is paying up to $5.7m for 57% of the issued share capital of ADI with approximately three-quarters payable immediately on closing and the remainder after 12 months based on ADI meeting certain targets. In addition, the Company has a call option to purchase the remaining 43% of the issued share capital of ADI for a price of 8x net profit and for a period of six months commencing three years after closing. Thereafter, ADI has a put option for a period of three months to sell at a price of 7x net profit.

Hagai Tal, Chief Executive Officer of Taptica, said: “We are delighted to welcome Adinnovation into the Taptica family. The two companies have been working closely together over the past year, generating revenues and profits together. The acquisition is expected to be accretive and earnings enhancing from day one and we also expect to benefit from a number of strategic synergies and mitigate the costs and risks we would have incurred to penetrate a market such as Japan organically. As a result, the Directors believe this transaction will be a key milestone in the continued international expansion of Taptica.”

Israel, Tel Aviv & USA, San Francisco, CA & Japan, Tokyo

Centaur Media Plc sells Home Interest Business for £32 million and acquires MarketMakers for an initial consideration of £13.4 million

Centaur Media Plc is to sell its business-to-consumer division, Home Interest for £32 million to Future plc and at the same time, acquire MarketMakers Incorporated Limited, an integrated marketing services businesses, for an initial consideration of £13.4 million with a deferred earnout amount based on EBITDA performance.

The proceeds from the sale of Home Interest will be used to pay for the acquisition of MarketMakers. Therefore completion of the acquisition is conditional on completion of the sale.

MarketMakers had revenues of £11.4 million and adjusted EBITDA of £1.7 million for year ended 31 December 2016. It is ranked as the No.1 telemarketing agency in the UK by B2B Marketing and has achieved growth in revenues of 27% over the last three years.

Centaur’s Home Interest division includes Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living and Real Homes.

The transactions help Centaur focus on becoming a B2B digital, business intelligence and events company and to reduce its reliance on print and advertising .

Andria Vidler, Chief Executive, commented: “These transactions are a major step forward in the continuing transformation of Centaur into a B2B focussed business, providing our increasingly professional customer base with a range of higher value-added products and services.

“The process of taking Centaur up the B2B value chain continues, and these transactions are a very significant step forward in our ambitions.”

UK, London

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Huntsworth acquires The Creative Engagement Group

Huntsworth plc, a healthcare communications and public relations group, has acquired The Creative Engagement Group (TCEG) from funds managed by LDC (Managers) Limited and certain members of TCEG’s management for £24.7 million.

TCEG is a collection of three creative agencies – WRG, The Moment and Just Communicate – that provide experiential marketing primarily through events and digital marketing, including virtual and augmented reality, predominantly to healthcare clients. TCEG is based in the UK but services clients across the world, with approximately one third of revenue generated in the US.

The TCEG management team is led by CEO Russ Lidstone and COO David Sharrock, and both will remain with the business.

TCEG generated revenues of c. £26 million and EBITDA of c. £3.8 million in the year to 31 October 2016. TCEG’s gross assets were £26.6m as at 31 October 2016.

Commenting on the acquisition, Paul Taaffe, Group CEO, said:

“TCEG is a great company with a wealth of talent and blue chip clients which will benefit from Huntsworth’s reach and connections especially in healthcare. With more and more clients seeking to engage both employees and customers with powerful experiences, TCEG is well positioned for future growth.”

UK, London

XLMedia PLC acquires Securethoughts.com for $2M

XLMdia PLC, a provider of performance marketing, has acquired Securethoughts.com, a US cyber security comparison website, for $2.0 million.

Ory Weihs, Chief Executive Officer of XLMedia, commented: “We are delighted to announce the acquisition of Securethoughts, our first and significant publishing asset in the fast growing cyber security sector. Securethoughts represents another excellent opportunity for XLMedia to increase its North American presence, diversify its revenues and establish a foothold in another vertical. This acquisition is a further step in executing our successful strategy of diversifying our activities and expanding into additional markets and geographies.”

Previous acquisitions:

UK, Jersey, St. Helier