Photo: IAB / Screengrab
WPP’s acquisition of digital shop AKQA is a part of the holding company’s plan to make 40 per cent of its revenues come from digital over the next five years.WPP CEO Martin Sorrell, most recently making headlines for unsuccessfully defending his $11.6 million paycheck to shareholders, has been lusting after the 1,160-person shop for a while.
“This is the third time knocking,” Sorrell told Ad Age. “We’d tried twice before, they turned us down twice before. Call us third time lucky.”
AKQA, which anticipates a $230 million revenue this year, was one of the last major shops that wasn’t owned by a holding company or public. (Although it was in talks with Dentsu in 2010). Under this new acquisition, the San Francisco-based shop will remain autonomous within WPP and continue to be led by founder and CEO Ajaz Ahmed and Chairman Tom Bedecarré. Bedecarré will also become president of WPP Ventures, a Silicon Valley-based company focusing on WPP’s digital investment opportunities.
“With increased resources and access to new geographies, our partnership with WPP will fuel the next level of energy, excitement and opportunity, delivering innovation and creativity at scale,” Ahmed said in a statement.
AKQA has had a quick rise since its 2001 founding and has worked for clients including Google, Nike, Unilver, Target, and Xbox. The agency was born out of a three-way merger between AKQA New Media in London), the venerable San Francisco shop Citron Haligman Bedecarré, Magnet Interactive in Washington, D.C., and The AndInc of Singapore.
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