Simon Ryan’s RyanCap agency consortium acquires first digital shop; Bob Jane and Fernwood Fitness on board as indie group trend continues
A month after launching his business RyanCap, former Dentsu Aegis Network Australia and New Zealand CEO Simon Ryan has acquired Melbourne-based digital agency JBZ Digital. Another three deals are in the wings, Ryan says. JBZ will fold into RyanCap's existing media arm RyvalMedia, bringing with it clients including, Bob Jane T-Marts, DFO and Fernwood Fitness.
What you need to know:
- RyanCap, the new business set up by former Dentsu Aegis Network Australia and New Zealand boss Simon Ryan earlier this year, has made its first acquisition.
- JBZ Digital, an indie digital media shop, has been bought for an undisclosed amount and will be merged with RyanCap’s specialist media arm, RyvalMedia, which is run by MD Joseph Pardillo.
- JBZ Digital has 12 staff and a client list that includes, Fernwood Fitness, Bob Jane T-Marts and DFO.
- Ryan told Mi3 he was talking to several potential acquisition targets in Sydney and Melbourne and expects to complete three to four by the end of the year.
- If all the acquisitions take place, RyanCap would have 60 staff, with ownership structures varying from agency to agency.
First M&A complete
Simon Ryan's independent agency group RyanCap has acquired JBZ Digital, a digital agency which will be merged immediately into the company's media specialist arm RyvalMedia.
Founded in 2018 by Marcus Betschel, Paul Grainger and Jonathan Henshaw, JBZ Digital’s services include digital strategy and planning, performance media, social, ecommerce and analytics.
It has 12 staff and a client portfolio that includes Brady Group, Everest Ice-Cream, Fernwood Fitness, Bob Jane T-marts, Cable Beach Club, Slendier, Simonds Homes and DFO.
Ryan told Mi3 he is hoping to wrap up another three to four acquisitions in Sydney and Melbourne before the end of 2020, lifting RyanCap’s staff from 20 to more than 60.
Earlier this year, industry insiders reported that Ryan was also interested in acquiring some of his former employer, Dentsu’s, digital media assets although nothing has eventuated.
RyanCap has acquired 100% of JBZ Digital for an undisclosed amount. Ryan says ownership structures will vary from deal to deal.
Betschel, Grainger and Henshaw all remain with the business reporting to RyvalMedia Managing Director Joseph Pardillo, one of the first media executives to join the business, exiting Carat in May.
"There will be M&A across both Sydney and Melbourne markets," Ryan says. "A number are currently underway, not only in the performance space but across the entire digital marketing sector.
"However, we won't be solely driven by the acquisitions the group makes. Others will form part of our own digital capabilities that we've been developing over recent months."
Ryan is alluding to one element of RyanCap focused on digital transformation, ad tech and martech, which was originally to be led by former Isobar CEO Konrad Spilva. He exited before any formal work had commenced.
Ryan says the JBZ Digital acquisition bolsters the capability of RyvalMedia, as it quickly "scales and solidifies its positioning as a digital-first media specialist" with expertise in performance, data, e-commerce and technology.
Pardillo’s team also includes certified Facebook and Google practitioners.
"The [JBZ Digital] acquisition was a perfect fit and we will continue to build an unrivalled blend of experience and skillsets within a diverse team, with the freedom to deploy the right media and align with the right technology, audience engagement tools and systems through one media-agnostic team," Pardillo told Mi3.
RyanCap’s acquisition of JBZ Digital comes as other independent agency groups are also expanding and challenging the hegemony of the large agency holding companies.
This week, former WPP executive Aden Hepburn revealed that in just six months his new shop Akcelo has hired 30 staff - and plans for a team of 100 - built a client list that includes Lion and has been hired to run a multi-million dollar digital transformation project for an un-named client.
Hepburn told Mi3 that while there will always be a place for the large holding group agencies, some marketers are keen to work with agencies that “aren’t tied up with red tape”.
Last week Jack Watts, CEO of Bastion Collective, one of Australia's largest independent agency groups, called on indies to “get their shit together” and take advantage of the ongoing “demise” of holding group models.