Next Fifteen Communications Group acquires Brandwidth

Next15Next 15, the digital communications group, has acquired the digital innovation agency Brandwidth.

The initial consideration for the acquisition is £6.2 million, which will be settled with £4.9 million of cash and the issue of 292,235 new ordinary shares in Next 15. Further deferred consideration may be payable in September 2018 of up to £3.3 million and April 2020 of up to £0.8 million based on the EBIT performance of Brandwidth in the year ending 30 June 2018. The maximum total consideration of £10.3m represents a 5.5x multiple of Brandwidth’s adjusted EBIT in the year ended 30 June 2017. The acquisition is expected to be earnings enhancing for Next 15 in the year to 31 January 2019.

For the year ended 30 June 2017, Brandwidth reported adjusted net revenues of £7.3 million, adjusted EBIT of £1.9 million and adjusted profit before tax of £1.9 million. The joint CEOs, Phil Goodman and Jason Jones, and the Chairman, Andrew Strange, will continue to lead the business which includes clients such as Toyota, Royal Caribbean, Citroen, Kia and Vodafone.

Tim Dyson, CEO of Next 15, commented: “Brandwidth is a great addition to Next 15. It brings significant digital skills to the Group, in particular we are excited to be able to offer clients its capabilities around the use of voice. We see voice, through platforms such as Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa, as a highly disruptive form of marketing. Their knowledge and experience of working with these technologies are of immense value.”

UK, London

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Pokémon GO creator Niantic acquires AR startup Escher Reality

NianticThe company behind Pokémon GO, Niantic, has acquired augmented reality startup Escher Reality. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Escher Reality builds backend services for cross-platform mobile AR so users can interact with each other and objects in the environment. The startup offered functionality for shared experiences that was absent in both Google’s ARCore and Apple’s ARKit. The startup’s investors include Uncork Capital, Founders Fund, Y Combinator, Liquid 2 Ventures, Webb Investment Network, iRobot Ventures, Presence Capital, Into Ventures and others.

Niantic CEO John Hanke said, “The addition of the Escher AR technology is incredibly exciting to us at Niantic as it significantly accelerates our work on persistent, shared AR as part of the Niantic real-world application platform. It’s our intention to make our cross-platform AR technology available more widely to developers later this year.”

Niantic is releasing its next big AR title Harry Potter Wizards Unite this year.

USA, San Francisco & Sunnyvale, CA

RELX Group to acquire ThreatMetrix

RELXRELX Group is to acquire ThreatMetrix, a digital identity company that helps businesses prevent online fraud, for £580m in cash.

ThreatMetrix is headquartered in San Jose, California and founded in 2005. ThreatMetrix’s technology analyses connections among devices, locations, anonymised identity information and threat intelligence, and combines this data with behavioural analytics to identify high-risk digital behaviour and transactions in real time.

ThreatMetrix has client relationships across financial services, e-commerce, and media sectors and offers authentication solutions for account origination, payments, “card not present” transactions and account logins.

ThreatMetrix’s Digital Identity Network analyses over 100 million transactions per day across 35,000 websites from 5,000 customers. It is one of the largest repositories of online digital identities in the world, encompassing 1.4 billion unique online identities from 4.5 billion devices in 185 countries.

ThreatMetrix will become part of Risk & Business Analytics under the LexisNexis Risk Solutions brand. LexisNexis Risk Solutions already has an established commercial partnership with ThreatMetrix, including ThreatMetrix’s device intelligence solutions in its Risk Defense Platform.

Risk & Business Analytics CEO, Mark Kelsey, said: “ThreatMetrix is widely recognised as a leader in the digital identity space. Bringing that together with our own strengths in physical identity attributes will give our clients across all forms of commerce and geographies a more reliable, comprehensive approach to fraud and identity risk management while maintaining the privacy and security principles our customers have come to expect. The acquisition is in line with our organic growth driven strategy, supported by acquisitions of targeted data sets and analytics that are natural additions to our existing business.”

In 2017, RELX Group completed eight acquisitions for a total consideration of £123m, and disposed of 17 assets for a total of £87m.

USA, New York & UK, London & The Netherlands, Amsterdam & USA, San Jose, CA

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XLMedia acquires websites from Good Game Ltd for €15M

XLMediaXLMedia, a provider of digital performance marketing, has agreed to acquire a number of leading Finnish gambling-related informational websites from Good Game Ltd for a total cash consideration of up to €15 million. The acquisition is expected to complete during the first quarter of 2018 and to be immediately earnings enhancing in the current financial year following completion.

The marketing services company said the acquired websites recorded €1.7 million revenue and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation margin of “at least” 75% in the year ended November 2017, implying Ebitda of around €1.3 million.

The deal involves an initial consideration of €7.0 million payable with milestones related to the transfer of assets which is expected to take place over three months. A further €7.0 million will be payable contingent on “significant growth in performance” of the acquisition over the subsequent six months.

XLMedia will also pay a share of revenues from the acquisition over the three months transition period. This is expected to amount to around €500,000 but is capped at €1.0 million.

The acquisition comprises a leading network of gambling-related websites focused on web and mobile traffic, specialising in casino games. Active since 2009, the websites provide visitors with useful information such as reviews of online casino websites, comparison of promotions offered by different brands and information on payment solutions. Traffic to and followers of the websites has steadily grown since inception and they now refer a significant number of players to their customers’ websites.

Chief Executive Officer of XLMedia, Ory Weihs, commented: “As we develop our business, we continue to capitalise on the infrastructure we have built, and take opportunities to expand further through acquisitions. With our current network, technology and sector expertise, the additional assets will be integrated easily into our operation, adding to our strong base of assets and recurring revenues. We are seeing good opportunities to buy additional assets in our key verticals, and we plan to continue acquiring domains and websites as part of our ongoing growth strategy.”

UK, Jersey, St. Helier & Malta, Gżira

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Accenture Agrees to Acquire Mackevision

AccentureAccenture has entered into an agreement to acquire Germany-based Mackevision, a leading global producer of 3D-enabled and immersive product content. The acquisition will add state-of-the-art visualization capabilities to Accenture Interactive’s digital services portfolio – strengthening its ability to create compelling, next-generation customer experiences and industrial, extended reality applications. The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions. Financial terms of the transaction are not being disclosed.

Mackevision’s creation, visualization and production services are used for online product configurators, digital and print catalogues, virtual showrooms, point-of-sale kiosks, augmented and virtual reality experiences, as well as broadcast video and feature films. Mackevision has developed a differentiated ability to leverage engineering data to construct ‘digital twins’ of complex physical products. By applying the latest techniques in CGI, visual effects and AR/VR, Mackevision can generate nearly any type of visual content from these twins – effectively turning engineering data into immersive product experiences and virtual applications. This highly-specialized approach has the potential to transform product design as well as fuel the next generation of consumer experiences.

Mackevision has earned international acclaim for its work on the HBO Series “Game of Thrones” – for which it was awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Visual Effects. The company’s high-end creative and visual effects capability is especially relevant in the growing field of extended reality, where life-like models and environments are considered critical to creating fully-immersive experiences.

Brian Whipple, head of Accenture Interactive, said, “Mackevision’s capabilities will add a whole new dimension of content innovation to our portfolio of services. The ‘digital twin’ concept has massive implications not only from a scaled media production and marketing standpoint, but also for our broader vision of helping clients render the most compelling experiences possible.”

Ireland, Dublin & Germany, Stuttgart

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Merkle’s Dentsu Aegis Network Acquires HelloWorld

Dentsu Aegis NetworkDentsu Aegis Network has acquired HelloWorld, a digital marketing solutions provider focused on promotion and loyalty solutions. With 370 people and a proprietary technology platform, The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 1999 in Detroit, Michigan, HelloWorld employs 370 people and has developed a differentiated practice that links response-driven consumer promotion with loyalty strategies and programme execution. HelloWorld creates promotional and gamified campaigns to spark interest, loyalty programs to retain and reward, insights-driven communications to continue the brand-consumer conversation, and analytics to optimise marketing execution. Long-standing clients include Coca Cola, Johnson & Johnson, and Microsoft.

Michael Hemsey, executive vice president of Merkle Loyalty Solutions, said, “The acquisition of HelloWorld increases our collective scale in providing loyalty strategy, technology, and engagement services that support the life cycle of our clients’ programs, across industries.”

USA, New York, NY & Detroit, MI

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Apple acquires app developer Buddybuild

AppleApple has acquired Buddybuild, a Vancouver-based app tools developer focused on continuous integration and debugging tools. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Buddybuild was founded in 2015 by former Amazon employees Dennis Pilarinos and Christopher Stott. In its nearly three years of existence, the startup has managed to raise around $8.8 million. Its existing customers includes Mozilla, Hootsuite, Reddit, SoundCloud, FourSquare and The New York Times.

As part of the acquisition, Buddybuild will be rolled into Xcode, Apple’s suite of development tools for iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS.

USA, San Francisco, CA & Vancouver, BC

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