In fact, the accompanying press release carries the line: “From ‘start-up to ‘sold’ in just two years”, which reminds me of the Stuart Baggs quote from the TV show The Apprentice: “Everything I touch, turns to sold”. That’s because, Punktilio’s sale is also just one year after Michael Birch invested in the London-based company. Birch, of course, has seen multiple exits, including Bebo, which he originally sold to AOL for $850 million in March 2008.
Of note, the Bebo connection with Punktilio goes further than Birch as an investor. The company, whose clients include Arsenal F.C, Harper Collins, Phones 4u and Simon Cowell’s SyCo Music label, was founded by ex-Bebo Head of Music, Hal Stokes, along with his brother after he left Bebo shortly after it sold to AOL.
So why has Essence acquired Punktilio? The spin being put on the purchase is all about social media going mainstream and the need to for social media marketing to be part of an integrated approach alongside other more traditional channels.
Or to quote Stokes, who argues that social media has shifted from segmented to utility, “sites like Myspace and Bebo appealed to specific demographics, and were essentially ‘cool’ to their users. Facebook and Twitter however are utilities, neither cool nor un-cool, they’re bigger than trends and they’ve now become essential tools for modern life. Social media is mainstream media now.”