Business Alerts by Chrissie Cluney

  • The Stagwell Group Acquires Wolfgang


The Stagwell Group has acquired a minority stake in a new creative consultancy called Wolfgang. The company was founded by former David & Goliath executives Mike Geiger, Seema Miller and Colin Jeffrey.

“I was immeasurably impresssed with the way [Wolfgang] combined strategic planning with creative,” said Mr. Penn. “We continue to fill out the marketing wheel and it’s important to have people onboard that are at the forefront of advertising and creative,” said Mark Penn, president and managing partner, The Stagwell Group.

Wolfgang is part Stagwell Group’s Marketing Incubator, which also includes digital advocacy shop Targeted Victory. While terms of the deal were not disclosed, Stagwell has an option to acquire a majority stake in Wolfgang in the future.

Wolfgang, which is based in Los Angeles, has about 12 staffers at the moment, including freelancers. The company is looking to bring on more people later this year who have a mix of left and right brain skill sets.

The co-founders of Wolfgang liked the Stagwell model because it’s a new type of holding company model that doesn’t have dozens of the same types of agencies. The company acquires shops that complement each other.

In January, Stagwell acquired Nielsen’s Harris brand and the Harris Poll through its Stagwell Media fund. That acquisition, which is the holding company’s fifth since October 2015, was expected to bring Stagwell Group’s revenue up to $250 million by the end of the year. Now, with that capital, Stagwell is up to $750 million in acquisitions.


  • Spotify Acquires MightyTV


Spotify has acquired content recommendation service MightyTV. Spotify is looking to further enhance the company’s advertising products and its marketing technology platforms. The deal will also see the addition of MightyTV’s founder and CEO Brian Adams to the company, where he will become Spotify’s VP of Technology. Adams will focus on both of these initiatives.

“The content recommendation system MightyTV has built is incredibly aligned with how we think about advertising technology and marketing personalization,” said Jason Richman, vice president of Product, Spotify. “Brian and his team will help us continue to innovate on free monetization and extend our leadership position in programmatic audio.”

MightyTV was a startup that offered TV show and movie recommendations. The company had developed a Tinder-style mobile app for iOS and Android that would allow the consumer to quickly indicate whether they liked or disliked a given title as a means of helping to customize MightyTV’s suggestions to their own personal tastes. The recommendations would then improve overtime with the more the consumer used the product.

“Spotify has built the leading marketplace for fans and creators,” said Brian Adams, vice president of technology, Spotify. “It’s an enormous opportunity for me and the team to help create native brand experiences that stay true to a product that millions love.”

What attracted consumers to MighyTV? From a consumer perspective, what made MightyTV interesting was not necessarily its Tinder-like interface but that it combined different approaches to making its suggestions, which consists of those that came from the aggregated user ratings as well as those that better understood one’s individual tastes.

MightyTV’s team of eight will be joining Spotify as part of the acquisition and will be based in their New York City, Toronto and Stockholm offices. The company has raised $4.25 million in seed funding.


  • Publicis Groupe and Microsoft Partners for Custom Experiences Via AI


Publicis Groupe and Microsoft have partnered together to create custom experiences for their consumers using AI. The holding company and its agency businesses will gain access to data capabilities and artificial intelligence designed for marketing with Microsoft Azure and the Cortana Intelligence Suite.

“This partnership is critical for us because it’s one of the biggest bets we’re making on the Microsoft platform,” said Samih Fadli, chief intelligence officer, SapientRazorfish. “There’s Google, Microsoft and AWS, but we made a decision … that Microsoft Azure would become our preferred platform to build assets.”

The agency created a customized version of Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant, specifically for Publicis with the algorithms and data models embedded into COSMOS. This is the holding company’s cognitive intelligence marketing platform. Because of this, the two companies will jointly create new consumer interfaces and interactions such as facial recognition, natural-language processing and voice recognition.

The relationship began in 2009 when Publicis acquired Razorfish from Microsoft. That acquisition turned into a partnership that now supports artificial intelligence through Publicis’ marketing cloud COSMOS.


  • Snapcart Raises $3M for Tracking Offline Commerce Data in Southeast Asia


Snapcart, a startup helping to bring transparency to the world of offline commerce in Southeast Asia, has raised $3 million in pre-Series A funding. The company was launched in September 2015.

The goal was to provide data on the largely uncharted world of offline commerce in Southeast Asia, which is a region of over 600 million consumers and a growing middle class. Snapcart gathers shopper and purchase data by incentivizing consumers to upload their shopping receipts into its app in exchange for cash-back rewards.

“It’s a black hole and brands don’t know what is happening,” said Reynazran Royono, CEO and founder, Snapcart.

Snapcart raised $1.7 million in January 2016. This new financing is designed to push it towards a Series A round before the end of this year. This $3 million raise is led by new investor Vickers Venture Partners with participation from existing backers Wavemaker Partners and SPH Media Fund, the investment arm of Singapore Press Holdings.

“Receipts form different formats across the countries where we collect them so there’s a lot of processes done to decrypt them: translating into text, making sure it is accurate and that we understand what is written,” said Royono. “We really invest a lot because we want to make sure the data we capture is captured in a high quality manner.”

Over the past year, Snapcart has expanded from its launch market of Indonesia into the Philippines. Manila is where the startup houses its artificial intelligence and data analysis team, which perfects the systems behind its OCR (optical character recognition) technology that identifies line items within shopping receipts.