W2O acquires Pure Communications, plans to create new health and tech agency

Pure Communications CEO Andrea Johnston will lead the combined agency.

Jim Weiss, CEO W2O Group
Jim Weiss, CEO W2O Group

SAN FRANCISCO: W2O Group has acquired life sciences agency Pure Communications and will merge it with BrewLife to create a new health and tech agency.

The combined firm will be revealed early next year and will include staff from both Pure and BrewLife. Pure Communications founder and CEO Andrea Johnston will take over leadership of the merged shop.

Johnston will take over the role vacated by Carolyn Wang, who left BrewLife in June, said W2O founder and CEO Jim Weiss. He and Johnston said there will be no other staff changes.

"It’s a merger of fairly equal companies, very similar in size, number of people, types of clients, and revenue," Weiss said. "At the end of the day, why do we do any of these things? Because clients are demanding it. Especially in the startup world, companies are looking to get everything in one shop."

Pure will add its offices in Wilmington, North Carolina, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, to BrewLife’s network of locations in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and Austin, Texas. The combined agency will focus on life sciences and technology, providing PR, investor relations, creative, digital, analytics, and branding services.

The two firms have been in talks since the beginning of the year. The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

"We both realized we wanted to fill certain gaps in our offerings," Weiss said. "[W2O] was looking to grow more on the East Coast and have access to East Coast talent. And get into investor relations, which is something Pure does in much more expansive manner than we’ve done."

Pure Communications was founded by Johnston in 2004 and has about 30 staffers. Its client roster includes venture capital firms, medical device manufacturers, and biotech companies.

"We’ve grown so much as Pure, and we were reaching that tipping point. We needed a different platform from which to grow," Johnston added. "What [Weiss] has built and has invested in terms of infrastructure, reach, and scalability in his business creates so many opportunities for both our employees and clients."

In May, W2O sold an undisclosed stake to private equity firm Mountaingate Capital. Last year, W2O bought Los Angeles-based boutique agency ARC2 Communications & Media and San Francisco-based Fox Communications, whose founder has since sued the group for discrimination and wrongful termination. W2O achieved nearly $96 million in revenue in 2015, with the lion’s share, $88 million, coming from the U.S. 

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