The deal is set to extend We Are Social’s network to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) for the first time, and bring its global reach to 11 offices across nine countries, with more than 700 employees.
Socialize employs 40 people and has a client base that includes Sony, General Mills, GEMS Education, Mercedes-Benz, Bioderma and Singapore Tourism. Its 2018 revenue is estimated to be $11m, adding to the c.$100m generated by We Are Social last year.
We Are Social, the social media specialist that is owned by Chinese marcoms group BlueFocus, said Socialize will continue to operate as an independent brand under the leadership of founder and MD Akanksha Goel, "while taking advantage of We Are Social’s global infrastructure and agency ecosystem".
"This is the first step in a strategy to further accelerate We Are Social’s rapid growth with key acquisitions around the world," We Are Social said in a statement. "The partnership will give its global clients exceptional insight and access to the fast-growing MENA market."
Asked if more acquisitions or openings are in the pipeline, a spokesman for We Are Social said: "There are plans, but no immediate ones."
We Are Social has bought a 51 per cent share in the Dubai firm, with plans to buy the rest over the next two years.
The cost of the deal has not been disclosed. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval in the UAE; We Are Social said this is expected in the next few weeks.
Robin Grant, chairman and co-founder of We Are Social, said: "We’re incredibly excited to be welcoming Akanksha and the rest of the Socialize team to the We Are Social family. They’re kindred spirits who share our creative culture and passion for social. As one of the fastest-growing and most dynamic regions in the world, the Middle East is absolutely crucial for our global clients and having Socialize as part of our network has fulfilled a long-held ambition."
Goel said: "We Are Social’s entrepreneurial spirit and future-focussed offering makes it the perfect strategic fit for Socialize. We're looking forward to joining forces with a network that is so like us from both a cultural and working practice perspective, a forward-thinking partner who shares our vision of the future and a global ecosystem that allows us to deliver greater value to our clients."
We Are Social was founded by Grant and Nathan McDonald ten years ago and works with clients including Adidas, Netflix, Samsung, Lavazza and Google. It has offices in New York, London, Paris, Milan, Munich, Berlin, Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing, Sydney, and now Dubai.
Last September it was announced that We Are Social and sister agency Citizen Relations will join a new marketing services group following an agreement between BlueFocus and US data analytics firm Cognit.