Strategic Alliance Will Help Companies in Evolving Digital Tech and Creative Arena
by Lindsay Stein
Grace Blue, an executive search firm that specializes in communications, advertising and media, has created a global partnership with consultancy and mergers and acquisitions adviser SI Partners to help companies keep up with the ever-evolving digital technology and creative markets.
The alliance was a joint idea between the two companies because "we kept listening to the same questions in different rooms from clients," said Charles Fallon, partner at SI Partners.
He said "the disruption caused by digital is putting more and more pressure on what is quite a restricted talent pool." Companies looking to buy or sell need to have a better understanding of senior level creative and technology talent, which is where Grace Blue comes in, said Mr. Fallon.
Ian Priest, global CEO of Grace Blue, said clients are increasingly looking into M&As, and SI Partners will advise on financial matters, while Grace Blue will support the people side, focusing on bringing two cultures together to provide long-term value for both companies.
Mr. Priest said the market has seen "some really interesting companies" becoming buyers and sellers recently, such as Deloitte acquiring ad agency Heat; IBM snapping up digital creative shop Resource/Ammirati; and PR agency Golin buying creative firm The Brooklyn Brothers.
SI Partners represented The Brooklyn Brothers for the last few years, and Mr. Fallon said the deal with Golin was "the last brick in what was PR and what was advertising."
"Golin's acquisition of Brooklyn is a major deal, and the reaction from the marketplace shows people are realizing a more contemporary way of getting creative thinking and content," said Mr. Fallon. He added that he believes the industry will see more acquisitions based on creative content throughout the rest of the year.
There is "nothing legal or overly formal" about the partnership between Grace Blue and SI Partners, which is based on sharing resources and developing new products, but the relationship could evolve into something bigger in the future, said Mr. Priest. An example of a product the companies could create together for clients is one for cultural integration and onboarding after an M&A deal closes, he said.
Mr. Priest and Mr. Fallon are co-leading the partnership, with some support from senior leaders in the U.S. and Asia. The companies will combine offices in New York and will look at opening joint locations in Asia. Mr. Priest said the alliance will provide "global solutions for clients" because both businesses are strong in London and Europe, while SI has a robust presence in Asia Pacific and Grace Blue is solid in North America.
Along with the partnership, Grace Blue is launching a new specialty unit called Grace Blue Acquisitions. SI Partners will also explore options for specialty groups like this on its own.