Creative & tech M&A trends: November round-up

November's deals showing new trends in creative & technology M&A; offshoring, marketing / experience platforms and $100m+ assets

Something I am often asked, is 'what trends are you seeing in the M&A market?'. Most of this information is gathered from our network of acquirers across the multiple specialisms of the creative & technology strategic / financial acquirer universe i.e. 'what are buyers yet to acquire?', 'what will they be looking for in 12-24 months?'. It can of course take several months (or longer) for these deals to come to fruition - so here are a couple announced this week that I think are of particular note.


Firstly, the acquisition of London-based (but global) digital marketing agency Jellyfish by French PE-fund Fimalac. The firm are looking to compete with S4 in terms of ‘aggressive acquisition strategy’, meaning another PE-backed buyer in the increasingly competitive PE-backed digital independent space (also including the likes of Dutch group Dept, US experience specialist Hero Digital etc).

What’s particularly interesting about this deal, is their experience of the Google marketing platform – more and more deals, by both digital marketing specialists and consultancy buyers, are about acquiring talent that understands these platforms. Other major Google marketing platform assets have been snapped up in recent months e.g. MightyHive, acquired by S4 for $150m in December 2018 - and ConversionWorks, also acquired by S4, two weeks ago.

This deal increases the firm's headcount to almost 1,300 – and a likely exit at some point in the next few years. We will no doubt be seeing a lot more M&A activity from this group within the next 12 months.

You can read more about that deal here

Announced today, was the sale of US-marketing solutions business BORN to Tech Mahindra, for an estimated total value equivalent to 2x revenue. The business offers strategy consulting, content creation, digital production & marketing, UX & design – with a strong commerce offer. A lot of BORN’s work was outsourced to their own development centres in India (retouching, production etc), and interest in acquiring these BPO / ‘off-shoring’ capabilities is growing, as experienced BPO providers enter the creative / media space. This is a growing trend; the cost of talent increasing, and the enormous demand for content production skills (at speed, globally, in multiple languages etc).

Following the acquisition of Mad*Pow in July 2019 (a deal SI Partners advised on), Tech Mahindra is showing it is investing heavily in commerce and digital marketing – providing serious competition for the likes of Accenture.

You can read more about that deal here

In conclusion, there are interesting times ahead - new and well-financed buyers emerging regularly, and competition for the right assets increasingly fierce. And of course the deals above are just those completed so far this week - it's only Wednesday!