NEW YORK: Story Worldwide, a brand storytelling and creative agency, has merged with social influencer firm VonShine Industries.
With the deal, the VonShine Industries brand will be retired, but little else will change logistically at the two firms. The merger closed on Monday.
Simon Kelly will remain CEO of Story Worldwide and VonShine’s founder Josh von Scheiner becomes chief experience officer. Together, Kelly and von Scheiner own 100% of the equity in the business.
Kelly said merger discussions began approximately four months ago after a business acquaintance introduced him to von Scheiner.
"Really we’re not going to change anything," Kelly said. "VonShine is mostly based in New York and Story Worldwide is mostly based in Seattle. And together we’re keeping the Seattle and New York presences."
Staff numbers were not disclosed, but a Story Worldwide spokeswoman said there will be no staff reductions as a result of the deal.
The motivators behind the deal included adding reach to Story Worldwide’s work and scale to VonShine efforts.
"Too many brands claim to be fresh and natural, and they may be, but those are table stakes," said Kelly. "We help brands go beyond that. We find out their differentiation proposition and then create stories about that. Up to now, that’s where we stopped."
At that point, Story Worldwide used to go to an agency such as VonShine to build an audience around that content, he added.
"From [von Scheiner’s] point of view, the merger adds scale for VonShine," Kelly said. "They were creating some content but didn’t have the more strategic relationships with brand building up front."
Kelly said he will likely be making more strategic moves soon, including acquisitions. Possible targets could be digital shops working in technologies like VR and AR.
"We’re looking at anybody that’s creating the digital experiences that go beyond the traditional interruption model," he explained.