IBM Buys Germany’s Aperto To Build Out Its Digital Agency Business

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Another day, another acquisition from IBM. Today Big Blue has announced that it will buy Aperto, a digital agency based in Berlin. Aperto will become a part of IBM Interactive Experience (“IBM iX”) — one of a number of services that IBM has been building out as part of its new wave of enterprise business. The Aperto news comes literally days after IBM announced that it would buy another digital marketing agency, Resource/Ammirati, based in the U.S.

Last week, IBM also closed its acquisition of the Weather Company for its Watson big data and AI business. As with the previous deals, financial terms of today’s acquisition are not being disclosed.

Aperto gives IBM a ready-made set of customers in Europe who were already working with the digital agency in areas like website and app development, as well as larger digital strategy projects. The client list includes biggies like the Airbus Group, VW and Siemens.

What it will also give IBM is a way of creating another touchpoint with large corporates who either already work with IBM on other IT services or integration projects — or might potentially consider doing so now that they are already with IBM working on front-end projects via Aperto.

As IBM builds out other enterprise partnerships with the likes of Apple, it’s presumably getting called on to provide ever more expertise — and labor — around the job of conceiving of and building mobile apps and other digital experiences, and this will help fill that need, too.

It’s also another step ahead for IBM in developing its agency business in its own right. The company claims IBM iX is already the world’s largest digital agency — which is not too much of a surprise considering how fragmented that world still is, even with all the acquisitive moves from ad giants like WPP and Publicis and big consultancies like Accenture to grow their own footprints in this space.

“IBM iX is a global market leader in experience design, which is emerging as an essential element in all business strategy,” said Paul Papas, Global Leader, IBM Interactive Experience, in a statement. “We’re honored to be joining forces with Aperto and look forward to reshaping the future of business and digital innovation with our clients in Germany and beyond.”

It looks like the acquisition is one of customers but also existing employees.

“We pride ourselves on remaining at the forefront of the digital revolution. After 20 years in the industry, we’re proud to join forces with IBM iX, the largest global digital agency, to continue doing just that,” said Dirk Buddensiek, CEO, Aperto, in a statement. “Between the talent sitting within the iX team, and IBM’s transformative work in the cognitive space, as well as leadership in cloud, mobile and analytics, this opportunity will open many doors for both our team and clients.”

It’s not clear whether Aperto had raised any outside funding prior to its sale, which is not too much of a surprise: agencies, unlike many other startups, tend to generate revenues from day one and therefore bootstrap their business.

IBM says the deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016, subject to applicable regulatory review and customary closing conditions.

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