Atomic partnered with Huntsworth to open sister agency before acquisition

SAN FRANCISCO: Atomic PR worked with Huntsworth to open a sister agency in February, a month before the London-based holding company acquired Atomic for $13.3 million.

SAN FRANCISCO: Atomic PR worked with Huntsworth to open a sister agency in February, a month before the London-based holding company acquired Atomic for $13.3 million.

H3O, which also focuses on analytics, digital, and social media, is led by Atomic veteran Rebecca West.

It has brought in clients like McAfee and TravelSort, according to Andy Getsey, who cofounded Atomic with James Hannon in 1999.

As part of the deal, Huntsworth acquired Atomic, H3O, and ComContext, its Web-based data analytics application. The acquisition is worth $13.3 million, with a total payment option of $50 million based on performance through December 2015.

Atomic, which has 85 staffers, reported $11.2 million in revenue in 2010. The San Francisco-based technology shop almost doubled its revenue in 2010, after reporting $6.5 million in revenue for 2009.

H3O employs 12 staffers and is on track to generate $1.6 million in annual revenue in 2011, said Getsey. It opened its doors February 16.

Sally Withey, group COO for Huntsworth, said that Atomic will retain its brand. Getsey will report to Withey on an interim basis until the acquisition is fully integrated into Grayling, one of Huntsworth's four brands.

She called the acquisition a “very good fit” for Huntsworth.

Getsey said that Atomic's lack of global expertise has been a sticking point in recent reviews, both in the technology and consumer sectors. Brands were concerned that Atomic's reach wasn't global enough, he said.

“Huntsworth can solve that for us,” said Getsey. “It feels like a very good partnership.”

He added that Atomic is planning to expand globally in 2011.

The two firms announced a joint venture in September 2009 that allowed Atomic to open offices in Munich and London. Along with early stage capital, Huntsworth also provided the San Francisco-based shop with access to managerial and operational support.

As part of the acquisition, Huntsworth furthers its expansion into the US and also has plans to roll out ComContext across its global platform. It acquired the Washington-based lobbying firm Dutko Worldwide in 2009.

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