Posts tagged with "Acquisition"

Double take: Winklevoss brothers buy a startup founded by identical twins

November 20, 2019

They are best-known for losing the Facebook concept—which they had named ConnectU—to the ambitious Mark Zuckerberg when they all attended Harvard University. And for winning $65 million in a suit against Zuckerberg in 2008.

But now the Winklevoss twins—Tyler and Cameron, age 38—have become crypto entrepreneurs. And Bloomberg reported on November 19 that they have made their first-ever acquisition, from a duo of entrepreneurs to whom they bear a strong resemblance.

Duncan and Griffin Cock Foster, 25, are also identical twins, Bloomberg says. While the Winklevoss brothers rowed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the other twins rowed in high school. That said, the Cock Fosters weren’t involved in the birthing of the social network Facebook.

“You can’t make this stuff up,” Tyler Winklevoss told the financial news outlet in a phone interview. “There are so many great parallels, it was just the right fit.”

The two sets of twins came together over their belief in the future of so-called nifties. A niftie may be a cat from the CryptoKitties game, in which players breed the digital felines, or a token representing ownership in art, stamps, and comic books—an asset that is being kept track of via a blockchain digital ledger and is tradeable.

To buy such collectibles, people typically have to open digital currency wallets, buy cryptocurrency on an exchange—a process that can take hours and can be confusing.

The Cock Fosters’ Nifty Gateway, which the Winklevosses’ Gemini Trust bought for an undisclosed sum, lets anyone pay for nifties with a credit card, via a streamlined experience similar to checking out through Amazon.

The company currently lets people buy nifties from Open Sea marketplace and CryptoKitties and Gods Unchained games.

It doesn’t disclose its customer numbers or payment volume. But Duncan Cock Foster forecasts that nifties could one day attract as many as one billion collectors, Bloomberg reports. The Winklevosses expect that the market for nifties will be as big as the collectibles, art, and gaming markets combined.

 “We believe in this future where all your assets will be on a blockchain and you may want to buy, sell and store them, and Nifty fits that vision,” Tyler Winklevoss said.

While initially Gemini, with more than 220 employees, and Nifty, with three workers, will continue to operate as stand-alone companies, that could change, and some of Nifty’s features could make way into Gemini services.

Duncan now owns about 300 nifties; and his brother, 100. While most people currently don’t even know what the word means, the two sets of twins hope that will change.

“All great companies, all great ideas there’s a period where you see a truth and many other people don’t, and you have to have that conviction,” Tyler Winklevoss said.

Research contact: @business

Merge ahead: Google to buy Fitbit in $2.1 billion deal

November 4, 2019

San Francisco-based Fitbit—which has expanded its presence to 39,000 retail stores and 100+ countries since it produced its first activity trackers in 2007—announced on November 1 that it has agreed to be acquired by Menlo Park, California-based tech giant Google for $7.35 per share in cash—valuing the company at a fully diluted equity value of approximately $2.1 billion.

“More than 12 years ago, we set an audacious company vision—to make everyone in the world healthier. Today, I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved towards reaching that goal. We have built a trusted brand that supports more than 28 million active users around the globe who rely on our products to live a healthier, more active life,” said James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit. “Google is an ideal partner to advance our mission. With Google’s resources and global platform, Fitbit will be able to accelerate innovation in the wearables category, scale faster, and make health even more accessible to everyone. I could not be more excited for what lies ahead.”

“Fitbit has been a true pioneer in the industry and has created terrific products, experiences and a vibrant community of users,” said Rick Osterloh, SVP, Devices & Services at Google. “We’re looking forward to working with the incredible talent at Fitbit, and bringing together the best hardware, software and AI, to build wearables to help even more people around the world.”

According activity tracker developers, being “on Fitbit” is not just about the device. Rather, “it is an immersive experience from the wrist to the app, designed to help users understand and change their behavior to improve their health.”

 Because of this unique approach, Fitbit says it has sold more than 100 million devices and supports an engaged global community of millions of active users—using data to deliver unique personalized guidance and coaching to its users. Fitbit will continue to remain platform-agnostic across both Android and iOS.

Consumer trust is paramount to Fitbit. Strong privacy and security guidelines have been part of Fitbit’s DNA since day one, and this will not change. Fitbit says the company “will continue to put users in control of their data and will remain transparent about the data it collects and why. The company never sells personal information, and Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads.”

The transaction is expected to close in 2020, subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by Fitbit’s stockholders and regulatory approvals.

Research contact:@fitbit

WebMD announces acquisition of Aptus Health

October 1, 2019

New York City-based WebMD, an online leader in health information services, announced on September 30, that it had entered into an agreement to acquire Reading, Massachusetts-based Aptus Health.

The acquisition includes Aptus Health’s core brand Univadis, a global information and education platform delivering medical news, conference and research updates and thought-leader education to 4 million healthcare practitioners in 91 countries.

In addition, the transaction includes Aptus Health’s EngagedMedia, which supports patient engagement and adherence via an integrated mobile messaging platform; and Tomorrow Networks, which offers data-driven, location-based mobile advertising and marketing solutions driven by consumer behavior.

The acquisition will combine the core competencies and scale of Aptus Health with that of WebMD and Medscape, the flagship consumer and health care professional brands in the WebMD network.

“Aptus Health is highly complementary to WebMD’s existing professional and consumer brands, making them an excellent addition to our platforms,” said Bob Brisco, WebMD CEO. “Together, we can leverage our combined strengths to extend our reach and engagement to health care professionals, patients and consumers.”

The addition of Aptus Health’s flagship brand Univadis to the Medscape franchise will build on Medscape’s unrivaled reach as the leading global source of clinical news, health information, education and point-of-care tools for health care professionals worldwide.

“Univadis strengthens our commitment to deliver best-in-class content and tools to millions of physicians worldwide,” said Jeremy Schneider, group general manager, WebMD Global. “With Univadis, we deepen our connection to local markets, extend our reach to healthcare practitioner audiences, and increase our value to customers.”

Aptus Health is wholly owned by the pharmaceutical firm, Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Aptus Health will continue to operate as an independent subsidiary of WebMD, as the companies build on and integrate products, platforms, and services.

The acquisition is expected to be complete in October and is subject to customary closing conditions. Terms of the deal are not being disclosed.

Research contact: @WebMD

You want fries with that? McDonald’s aims to personalize drive-thru menu boards

March 27, 2019

Chicago-based fast-food monolith McDonald’s announced on March 25 that, in its largest acquisition in 20 years, it will spend $300 million to acquire the Israeli company Dynamic Yield—a leader in personalization and decision logic technology, according to a report by Bloomberg.

With the new technology, McDonald’s envisions that it can change up the food it offers on its electronic menu boards, depending on factors such as the weather–coffee on cold days and McFlurries on hot days, for example—or the time of day, current restaurant traffic, trending items, or regional preferences.

What’s more, the menus will be able to instantly suggest and display additional items for a customer’s order based on his or her current selections.

“This will enable McDonald’s to be one of the first companies to integrate decision technology into the customer point-of-sale at a brick and mortar location,” the fast food chain stated in a press release.

McDonald’s tested this technology in several U.S. restaurants in 2018. Upon closing of the acquisition, McDonald’s will begin to roll it out at the chain’s drive-thru at restaurants in the United States in 2019; and then expand it to other top global markets.

McDonald’s also will begin work to integrate the technology into all of its digital customer experience touchpoints, such as self-order kiosks and McDonald’s Global Mobile App.    

“Technology is a critical element of our Velocity Growth Plan, enhancing the experience for our customers by providing greater convenience on their terms,” said McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook, adding, “With this acquisition, we’re expanding both our ability to increase the role technology and data will play in our future and the speed with which we’ll be able to implement our vision of creating more personalized experiences for our customers.”

Upon closing, McDonald’s will become sole owner; and will continue to invest in Dynamic Yield’s core personalization product and world-class teams. Dynamic Yield will remain a stand-alone company and employees will continue to operate out of offices around the world. Dynamic Yield also will continue to serve current clients and attract future prospects.

Research contact: @McDonald’s

In $550M transaction, Diageo unloads 19 ‘value’ brands to U.S. distiller Sazerac

November 13, 2018

London-based Diageo, the world’s largest distiller, is selling its portfolio of 19 value or “lower-end” brands—including Goldschläger schnapps and Seagram’s Canadian whiskey—to Metairie, Louisiana-based Sazerac for US$550 million in a transaction expected to close early in 2019.

The company has announced that it is pivoting toward premium brands and higher-growth products, The Financial Times reported on November 12.

“Diageo has a clear strategy to deliver consistent efficient growth and value creation for our shareholders,” said CEO Ivan Menezes in a formal statement, adding, “This includes a disciplined approach to allocating resources and capital to ensure we maximize retu- growing premium and above brands in the U.S. spirits portfolio.”

Menezes said the brands included in the transaction would include Seagram’s VO, Seagram’s 83, Seagram’s Five Star, Myers’s, Parrot Bay, Romana Sambuca, Popov, Yukon Jack, Goldschläger, Stirrings, The Club, Scoresby, Black Haus, Peligroso, Relska, Grind, Piehole, Booth’s, and John Begg.

According to FT, the United States— which accounts for about 45% of group profits—has been a problem spot for Diageo. The financial news daily said, “ the group’s significant exposure to the vodka ‘value’ brands, have caused Diageo’s U.S. sales to grow more slowly than the market. In its financial year 2018 to June, Diageo posted 3% organic sales growth in the US, compared with the 4% cent growth seen for the US spirits market overall.”

This is not the company’s first spirits sale aimed at greater profitability. Since 2015, Diageo has unloaded its wine business, as well as its beer brand Red Stripe.

The company said it would return net proceeds of about US$441 million to investors through share buybacks.

Sazerac is a privately owned company that, as of 2017, operated nine distilleries worldwide and ranked as the second largest spirit producer in the United States.

Research contact: @labboudles

On the bubble: PepsiCo to acquire SodaStream in $3.2B transaction

August 21, 2018

PepsiCo and SodaStream International formally announced on August 20 that they have entered into an agreement under which PepsiCo has agreed to acquire all outstanding shares of SodaStream for $144.00 per share in cash, which represents a 32% premium to the 30-day volume weighted average price. The transaction has been valued at $3.2 billion.

The companies said that the deal would enable them to combine PepsiCo’s strong distribution capabilities, global reach, R&D, design and marketing expertise with SodaStream’s differentiated and unique product range—thereby, positioning SodaStream “for further expansion and breakthrough innovation.”

Founded in 1991 in Israel, SodaStream claims to be is “ the number-one sparkling water brand in volume in the world and the leading manufacturer and distributor of sparkling water makers; saying, “We enable consumers to easily transform ordinary tap water into sparkling water and flavored sparkling water in seconds. By making ordinary water fun and exciting to drink, SodaStream helps consumers drink more water.”

The transaction is another step in PepsiCo’s Performance with Purpose journey, the beverage and snack food company said—promoting health and wellness through environmentally friendly, cost-effective and fun-to-use beverage solutions.

“PepsiCo and SodaStream are an inspired match,” said PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi. “[CEO] Daniel [Birnbaum] and his leadership team have built an extraordinary company that is offering consumers the ability to make great-tasting beverages while reducing the amount of waste generated. That focus is well-aligned with Performance with Purpose, our philosophy of making more nutritious products while limiting our environmental footprint. Together, we can advance our shared vision of a healthier, more-sustainable planet.”

For his part, Birnbaum commented, “Today marks an important milestone in the SodaStream journey. It is validation of our mission to bring healthy, convenient and environmentally friendly beverage solutions to consumers around the world. We are honored to be chosen as PepsiCo’s beachhead for at home preparation to empower consumers around the world with additional choices. I am excited our team will have access to PepsiCo’s vast capabilities and resources to take us to the next level. This is great news for our consumers, employees and retail partners worldwide.”

“SodaStream is highly complementary and incremental to our business, adding to our growing water portfolio, while catalyzing our ability to offer personalized in-home beverage solutions around the world,” said Ramon Laguarta, CEO-Elect and President, PepsiCo.  “From breakthrough innovations like Drinkfinity to beverage dispensing technologies like Spire for foodservice and Aquafina water stations for workplaces and colleges, PepsiCo is finding new ways to reach consumers beyond the bottle, and today’s announcement is fully in line with that strategy.”

According to their joint statement, the acquisition has been approved unanimously by the boards of directors of both companies. The transaction is subject to a SodaStream shareholder vote, certain regulatory approval,  and other customary conditions, and closing is expected by January 2019.

A Forbes analysis of the carbonation maker found, “SodaStream had said some time back that the global market for at-home beverage systems has the potential to grow to $260 billion, while the market in the U.S. could generate a cumulative $40 billion. “Of course,” the business news outlet said, “this estimate used the aggressive assumption that these systems will penetrate about 87% of the domestic households, which seems improbable.”

According to small business and marketing advisor Brandon Gaille, the average American consumes 44 gallons of soda every year—a 20% overall decline from peak rates in the 1990s. Sales of sparkling water jumped 8.6% between 2009 and 2011 while soda sales slumped.

Research contact: @Trefis

Atlantic Media Sells Quartz to Japan’s Uzabase

July 5, 2018

Atlantic Media, a private, Washington, D.C.-based company that owns a slew of digital, print, event, social, and video platforms—including The Atlantic, Government Executive Media Group, and National Journal—has announced the sale of Quartz, a six-year-old business news site, to Japanese financial intelligence and media firm Uzabase in a deal valued at between $75 million to $110 million.

Under the terms of the agreement, revealed on July 2, Quartz will take over the English-language version of NewsPicks, the Tokyo-based company’s global subscription-news service for consumers, within 30 days.

NewsPicks launched in Japan in 2013—and in the United States in mid-2017, as a joint venture with Dow Jones. Designed to be the first place professionals, investors, entrepreneurs, and executives go each day to get a curated, but comprehensive, selection of news, the NewsPicks content is aggregated from both traditional publishers and new media. Users can also customize their own individual feeds based on the people, publications, and keywords they follow. In Japan, the service has 3.3 million registered users and 64,000 paying subscribers, with a price point of $15/month.

It was just prior to the Asian launch of the publication that Uzabase CEO Yusuke Umeda  became aware of Quartz. “Five years ago, when I was originally thinking about launching a digital media business, I discovered Quartz for the first time,” he said. “I thought that they were truly the first new media company to successfully combine quality journalism with mobile technology, and they played a big role in inspiring me to launch NewsPicks. I am very excited to enter the next chapter of NewsPicks’s growth with a company and team that I respect so much.”

By bringing together the Quartz and NewsPicks businesses, Uzabase, which is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, will be able to create a larger, more robust global business news brand that combines Quartz’s voice, original editorial content, advertising, product expertise, and international reach with Uzabase’s deep expertise in data and niche paid content. This partnership accelerates NewsPicks’ expansion into English-language markets in the United States and Europe. It also will accelerate Quartz’s transition into a paid- subscription operation.

Quartz’s two founders—Editor-in-Chief Kevin J. Delaney and Publisher Jay Lauf — will become co-CEOs of Quartz, reporting to Umeda. Quartz will retain its name and brand and continue operating from its New York City headquarters. Currently, Quartz has 215 employees, including 100 journalists based around the world; with offices in London, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.

On average, management says, more than 20 million people access Quartz each month across its suite of digital products, including its website, an app, email newsletters, and video. Other Quartz products include a bot studio and Quartz Creative— the commercial division, which works with brands on content, insights, strategy and other business solutions. Half of the Quartz audience is from outside the United States.

Atlantic Media will continue to provide corporate support to Quartz through a transition period of at least one year following the acquisition. Atlantic Media Chairman and Owner David Bradley will continue to work with the company as a senior advisor and shareholder. Bradley, with Atlantic Media President Michael Finnegan, will continue to own and operate the privately held holding company’s other businesses.

This is far from the biggest publication takeover to close this year. Meredith bought out Time—publisher of Time, People, Sports Illustrated and InStyle —in  an all-cash-backed transaction of $1.84 billion that closed in February.

Research contact: Emily@AtlanticMedia.com

Amazon enters pharmacy market with acquisition of PillPack

June 29, 2018

According to a 2015 study by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, nearly three out of five Americans (60%) take a prescription drug daily—and many take multiple drugs. Now. Amazon—which supplies nearly everything we need online—is entering the pharmacy market by acquiring a company called PillPack that makes taking medicine easier.

Many youngsters who are going to sleepover camp this season will take PillPacks with them—small plasticine envelopes that contain multiple, daily prescriptions that are sorted by dose and are labelled for the date and time at which the child is to take them. And they are not the only ones who rely on this service: Seniors increasingly are signing up for the service at home, so that they don’t have to sort their pills and remember when to take them.

Founded in 2013, the private, Boston-based company says that it helps customers ”take the right meds at the right time, every time—and is now available in 49 states, both as a direct-to-customer mail service and as an in-network pharmacy that works with such companies as CVS Caremark, Express Scripts, Humana Pharmacy Solutions, Aetna, and more.

“PillPack’s visionary team has a combination of deep pharmacy experience and a focus on technology,” says Jeff Wilke, Amazon CEO–Worldwide Consumer. “PillPack is meaningfully improving its customers’ lives, and we want to help them continue making it easy for people to save time, simplify their lives, and feel healthier. We’re excited to see what we can do together on behalf of customers over time.”

The deal — for which terms were not immediately disclosed — marks Amazon’s latest push into the healthcare industry. In January, the company announced a collaboration with JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway meant to reduce healthcare costs for their own U.S. workers.

According to a report by Business Insider, pharmacy stocks in the U.S. market dropped on the deal announcement, most notably those of CVS (-8.1%), Rite Aid (-3.1%), and Walgreens Boots Alliance (-9.2%).

The business news outlet commented, “Pharmacy shareholders will perhaps find solace in the fact that they’re not the only industry to have billions in market value erased by a single Amazon announcement. The trend has been playing out repeatedly over the past year, with grocery stores, athletic-apparel retailers, and package-delivery services among the afflicted groups.”

The reasoning is simple, Business Insider said: Amazon has a ton of cash and an unparalleled logistical network, and when it looks poised to enter or expand its position in a market, traders get scared and bail out of holdings in competing companies.

The deal is slated to close by year-end 2018.

Research contact: @AmazonNews