THE EXCHANGE LAB
BGF provided £5m of growth capital to The Exchange Lab in November 2013.
The business, co-founded by entrepreneurs James Aitken and Tim Webster, delivers digital advertising campaigns across display, video, social media and mobile channels, evaluating a billion audience interactions daily. Its proprietary plaform, Proteus, provides advertisers and brands with visibility across twelve DSPs, enabling them to access unrivalled volumes of digital inventory at lowest cost.
The company invested BGF’s capital in Proteus, integrating an additional eight Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) and boosting campaign automation by developing advanced APIs. It also embarked on a focused sales strategy in North America, delivering top line growth and demonstrating commercial scale on the Proteus platform.
In December 2015, BGF successfully exited its investment in the firm, following its acquisition by WPP for an undisclosed sum. The Exchange Lab’s people and technology are now being integrated into WPP’s GroupM.
This was second high-profile ‘scale-up’ exit for BGF in the technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) sector following the acquisition of Unruly by Newscorp in September 2012.
Chris Hodges, an investor at BGF, oversaw BGF’s initial investment in The Exchange Lab and served as BGF’s non-executive director on the board of the company.
In November 2013, BGF invested £2.5m in Sub10 Systems (Sub10), a specialist designer, developer and vendor of class-leading millimeter wave (“MMW”) wireless solutions for mobile telecoms.
Sub10’s products are high speed wireless devices for data transfer across mobile networks where historically data transfer has been slow and unreliable. The company’s customers are primarily telecommunications companies and large network operators. Due to the growth in mobile data traffic, many operators are using wireless to save on radio spectrum usage and thereby increase efficiency. This can be achieved by using products such as Sub10’s wireless links where plenty of data spectrum is available for relatively short, high speed, point-to-point data connections. This is ideal for densely packed communications networks such as urban areas and Sub10’s products will help to improve the performance of mobile networks.
Sub10’s aim is to develop the smallest, best in class MMW wireless solutions which are cost effective and installer friendly. The company exports 90% of its products and currently the majority of its sales are to operators in Eastern Europe, Russia and Turkey with the remainder to the UK and Ireland.
Merger with Fastback Networks
In March 2015, Sub10 Systems agreed a merger with US venture capital backed company Fastback Networks.
Fastback, which is based in San Jose, California, delivers innovative mobile infrastructure technology, enabling network operators to deliver enhanced wireless solutions to its customers.
The merger created a group that is able to provide high performance backhaul solutions essential to the deployment of LTE, LTE-A, VoLTE, 4G and 5G mobile networks. The new entity converges Sub10 and Fastback’s powerful and proven technology platforms and intellectual property to enable the industry’s first hybrid – sub 6GHz and mmWave – Any Line of Sight™ backhaul solutions.
The Sub10 Systems operation in Devon became the new European headquarters for Fastback. The combined group is taking immediate advantage of Fastback’s North American sales and marketing presence and strengths, and vice versa for Sub10’s European presence and strengths.
BGF remained as a minority investor in the enlarged entity.
Inoapps on the acquisition trail following £10m investment
– BGF backs leading IT consultancy to support its ambitious growth plans –
Inoapps, one of the leading Oracle Platinum Partners and Applications specialists in the UK, intends to increase the size and scale of its operations significantly, thanks to a £10m investment of growth capital from BGF. This was BGF’s seventh investment in Scotland brought its current Scottish investment total to just over £36.9m.
BGF, the independent company established to help the UK’s growing businesses, invested £10m in growth capital to allow Inoapps to make several acquisitions to increase its customer offering, and to fund international expansion. BGF took a minority stake and BGF investment director Mike Sibson was appointed to the board. Long-time adviser to the company, Bobby Anderson joined the board at completion, and BGF will also be working with the company to appoint a chairman with industry and entrepreneurial experience to support Inoapps CEO Andy Bird in the next stage of the company’s development.
Inoapps is based in Aberdeen with offices in Edinburgh, Derby and Kuala Lumpur, and a team of around 200 employees and associates. It was founded by Andy Bird in 2006 and is the leading Oracle Reseller and Platinum Partner in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The business specialises in providing consulting, implementation and hosting and managed services for Oracle applications, technology and hardware. Inoapps is on a high growth trajectory, and has doubled turnover in each of the last two years and turned over around £20m to year-end July 2013.
Inoapps initially focussed on implementing Oracle applications and technology solutions into the oil and gas industry but has since diversified into other sectors including construction, defence, and the public sector. It delivers robust, resilient and powerful Oracle solutions that support and transform businesses, bringing rapid return on investment. It has recently completed several multi-million pound projects, and now supports major international blue chip clients across the full range of Oracle products. Inoapps’ “50 in 15” strategy lays out a plan to continue to grow to £50m revenue in 2015, through organic growth and acquisition.
BGF investment director Mike Sibson who will be joining Inoapps board, said:
“Andy Bird is a driven entrepreneur who has built Inoapps into a successful business over the last six years. It is on a highly impressive growth trajectory, driven by consistent high quality project delivery, Andy’s strong leadership and the experienced management team.
“The team has demonstrated its ability to lead the delivery of larger projects to blue chip clients, with outstanding results. Andy has a vision for how Inoapps will build on this platform both in the UK and overseas. BGF was established to provide long term capital to ambitious UK companies and we are very excited to become part of that vision.”
Andy Bird, founder and CEO of Inoapps, commented:
“We are very pleased to have BGF’s support during a pivotal period of growth. We had several recommendations of BGF from trusted advisers and we have been pleased with the efficient investment process.
“We have an aggressive growth plan, and having made two acquisitions in recent years, we know that BGF’s investment will give us the platform to increase our capabilities and our resources for international delivery. This will further strengthen our position as a market leader.”
Leading online service developer set for growth with investment from BGF
BGF has invested £2.25m of growth capital in Abacus e-Media, one of the UK’s leading providers of content management systems and audience development platforms for the media, publishing and public sectors.
BGF’s investment will enable the business to increase its sales and marketing activity, accelerate the development of its software platforms, and expand its offering into adjacent markets including B2C publishing, professional institutions and events.
Abacus’ customers include some of the most influential companies in the media sector with key clients including Centaur Media, Thomson Reuters, UBM, EMAP, Christie’s, Condé Nast and The Law Society. The business offers content management solutions, web design and build through Webvision, and audience development and fulfillment services through ADvance.
Abacus was founded in 1997, and employs 70 people across offices in London and Portsmouth and in 2012 generated revenues of £4.5m. E Consultancy / New Media Age has included Abacus in its chart of Top 100 Digital Agencies for nine consecutive years.
Abacus sells a modular content management system called Webvision that is designed for editors and journalists to manage workflows and publish content intuitively, and without the cost and complexity of bespoke technical development. The software manages multi-channel content delivery over the web, mobile devices, tablets, apps and print.
More recently, Abacus has established an innovative audience development platform called ADvance. ADvance enables publishers and other registration and subscription-based institutions to market, package and fulfill both online and print products quickly and in a coordinated fashion.
This is increasingly important for publishers in a marketplace where the ability to change and monetize online content underpins key elements of their competitive advantage.
In addition to funding, BGF has contributed additional support to the company through the introduction of Nick Caplan as a Non-Executive Director. Nick is the former Chief Marketing Officer of Logica plc, a position he held from 2003 to 2008. Nick is also Chairman of Managed Networks Limited, an IT services provider to the SME market.
Enterprise software for content management and user fulfillment addresses a large and growing market. The global web content management market is approximately $1bn in size and is projected to grow at c.14% from 2009 to 2014, twice as fast as the overall enterprise software market according to research specialists Gartner.
Chris Hodges, investment director at BGF, commented:
“Abacus is an exciting UK software company that has had the confidence and ambition to invest and develop its audience development platform. It has grown strongly and serves a host of impressive clients across the public, media and publishing sectors. Webvision, the company’s core CMS platform, provides a robust platform for investment and growth. I am delighted to be partnering with Steve Feigen to fulfill his ambitions for Abacus.”
Steve Feigen, CEO of Abacus, said:
“What attracted us to BGF was the long term view they take on their investments, and the strong sense that they work to support the vision of the business. Their investment will help us to drive the development of our ADvance and Webvision platforms and to extend our client base much more quickly that we could otherwise have hoped to do. It will also enable us to move more swiftly into other subscription-based markets, the recent adoption of ADvance by Christie’s having provided a clear illustration of strong demand from the wider marketplace. This investment will secure the product roadmap for ADvance while allowing us to strengthen our growing customer services and support operation.”
Unruly Launches Analytics Dashboard
World’s Largest Video Sharing Database Now Provides Historical and Real-Time Analytics
Video technology company Unruly today launches a real-time analytics dashboard which allows advertisers to gauge the social impact of their current and previous social video strategies versus their competitors. Released in open beta today, Unruly Analytics™ is based on the company’s proprietary technology, which has tracked seven years’ worth of historical video sharing data across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere. The cloud-based dashboard has been beta-tested by some of the world’s biggest advertisers and measures content from 1,300 brands across all verticals.
“Unruly Analytics is super easy to use, has a sleek user interface and offers beautiful data visualization which updates in split seconds,” said Irène Labus, Analytics Director, Havas, who has been beta-testing the product.
“What’s most valuable about the product is that the real-time data tracks such a broad spectrum of branded video content, across paid, owned and earned media.”
The solution is available in two versions. The Benchmark Edition is used to effectively measure a brand’s social video footprint against its competitors while the Campaign Edition provides real-time insight into a specific campaign’s performance and ROI.
Unruly Analytics provides:
- Cloud-Based Access: Login wherever and get real-time insights into video performance to quickly pull reports, measure success and inform future strategies. The data is collected every 60 seconds so you can always have an accurate picture of what’s happening;
- Enterprise-grade software platform: Robust, stable product based on seven years of research and development;
- Data Visualization: Create a variety of simple and elegant visual representations of vast sets of data in seconds. Present them in an wide choice of classic and cutting edge visual analytics – including pie charts, bar graphs, polar charts and even streamgraphs!;
- Historical and Real-Time Analysis: Capture data from specific timeframes e.g. last quarter, last year and past 24 hours;
- Competitive Analysis: Benchmark a brand’s social video performance to outsmart the competition;
- Granular Metrics: Track a broad variety of metrics, including total shares, shares by platform, views, views by platform, comments and likes;
- Easy to use: The solution is easy to use and requires zero training.
“We are seeing an explosion in the social video market and brands are struggling to keep pace with how to measure the medium and report the success and ROI. Four billion items are shared on Facebook every day and 700+ YouTube videos are shared on Twitter every minute,” said Matthew Cooke, CTO and co-founder of Unruly. “Unruly Analytics bridges the gap between the big data deluge and the ability to pull actionable insight from video content tracking. Brands can now benchmark the success of their individual video campaigns or calculate their total share of voice versus their competitors.”
Unruly has tracked over 329 billion video views and tracks 1.6 million videos at any one time (in real time). Some of the data used in Unruly Analytics also powers the Unruly Viral Video Chart™, which has been trusted since 2006 by advertisers worldwide to track their video content.
Many platforms don’t begin tracking content until users have identified the content and asked for it to be tracked by entering it into the database themselves. Unruly Analytics is already tracking 1,300 global brands and counting. This is the reason why users are able to access historical data and competitive intelligence as soon as they log in to the dashboard, with no set-up required.
Predictions are that global online video advertising spend will rise to $10 billion by 2015, with internet ad spend expected to account for 59 percent of the growth in total ad spend between 2012 and 2015. In such a fast-paced environment, it is critical that brands have access to up-to-the-minute statistics.
Unruly Analytics is the latest in a line of Unruly™ products released in 2013. It completes Unruly’s capability to provide end-to-end campaign support to its clients, from creative solutions and content evaluation, through video distribution, social tracking and now customizable benchmarking.
To register your interest in trialing Unruly Analytics, please click here.
M Squared appoints Finance and Sales Directors
M Squared Lasers has announced two new director appointments as it looks to build on “a hugely successful” 2012.
David Vettese joins the Glasgow-based technology firm as sales director from Forth Dimensions Displays Ltd whilst Chartered accountant Alan Porter, who spent nine years with PwC, joins the company as finance director. More recently, Porter has worked with software manufacturers Graham Technology and Sword Ciboodle.
Dr Graeme Malcolm, managing director of M Squared Lasers, said:
“David and Alan join us at an exciting stage in the development of the business. That we were able to attract candidates of such a high calibre is testament to the success we have enjoyed in the last 12 months. David brings with him a fantastic record of success and a proven ability to develop international sales operations, which will be invaluable as we seek to grow our own sales team in the USA, Asia, and in particular, Europe.
“Alan is a hugely respected CA who has both in-house and advisory experience. Both his knowledge and commercial acumen precede him, and he will be a hugely successful addition to the team here in Glasgow.”
M Squared Lasers, a developer and manufacturer of next-generation lasers and photonic instruments for a range of sectors, was established in 2006 by business partners Graeme Malcolm and Gareth Maker. The company has recorded growth of more than 1,600 per cent over the past five years and was one of five Scottish firms to feature in the 2012 Deloitte Fast 50 list of the UK’s fastest growing technology firms.
In May 2012, BGF invested £3.85 million in M Squared to help it pursue high growth opportunities in the defence and medical industries for its Firefly laser product.