Dept acquires Raybeam, expands US data chops

The European digital agency has been on a growth tear in the U.S., which now accounts for nearly half its business.

Dept CEO Dimi Albers.
Dept CEO Dimi Albers.

Digital agency Dept has acquired Raybeam, a Massachusetts-based digital engineering and analytics consulting firm, for an undisclosed sum.

Raybeam, launched in 1997, helps enterprises take control of their data assets by building data warehouses and deploying data to drive business goals. The firm will continue to service its existing clients while working with Dept clients in the U.S. that need data support.

Raybeam’s technology will also be integrated with Ada, Dept’s proprietary marketing tech stack that underpins all its services.

“We are an engineering organization, but we're really excited by solving business problems,” said Wes Duenow, general manager at Raybeam.

For Dept, a digital-only challenger agency launched in the Netherlands in 2015, Raybeam adds critical data and engineering expertise to its U.S. operation, which has grown to make up 45% of its revenues.

“Data is a strong suit for us in our native European market,” said Dept CEO Dimi Albers. “We wanted a top-notch team in the U.S. so we could capitalize on the data opportunity for our clients.”

Dept was attracted to Raybeam’s equal focus on technology and marketing, as well as its ability to “dive very deep from a technical perspective” for marketing use cases, Albers said.

Raybeam has already helped Dept expand client relationships in the U.S. For instance, Dept expanded its digital product remit with Moodys by bringing in Raybeam to help with data and analytics.

“We want to strengthen a bunch of the larger relationships we have with clients,” Albers said.

Raybeam, which has seen its growth accelerate in the U.S. in the past four years, sees an opportunity in Dept to work more closely with marketing services partners who it would normally hand off its data segmentation and analytics work to.

“Having that under one roof, so we can speak to each other plainly and align on business objectives instead of there being a weird line of who is responsible for what, is a large opportunity,” Duenow said.

For Dept, expanding in the Americas, its fastest-growing region, is critical to servicing global clients. Dept grew roughly 35% organically in the U.S. in 2021 and expects to grow at a similar pace this year, Albers said.

Globally, Dept has grown to 2,500 employees and hit roughly $300 million in revenues as clients looked for digital-centric services during the pandemic. In addition to data, Dept offers digital product and experience design and technology services and is looking to grow its performance marketing capabilities.

The digital agency also has its sights set on Asia, where it recently opened its first offices in Singapore, Manila, Delhi and Jakarta. Albers wants APAC to make up 10% of business within the next two years.

Similar to digital startups such as Media.Monks, Dept operates on a single P&L and organizes teams around client needs. Founders are incentivized to work together with shares in the parent company and Dept avoids structuring acquisitions on earnouts. As a result, roughly 30% of Dept’s shareholders are agency founders, and since it launched in 2015, 81% of founders from its acquisitions have remained at the company.

“That really resonated with our approach,” Duenow said. “The incentive was to participate in this larger opportunity. We saw a path to growth vs. an exit.”

This story first appeared on campaignlive.com. 

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