Giant WPP stokes M&A competition for digital marketing startups

Summary:Competition among giant marketing and advertising groups could be a boon for Silicon Valley investors...

WPP, the world's largest advertising and marketing group, is on a buying spree, reports the Financial Times. WPP – can’t stop shopping -

Who says there is no M&A any more? WPP made no fewer than 40 acquisitions, in 21 countries, in the first half of 2012. That is nearly two a week.


WPP is already the world’s biggest advertising agency. It intends to get bigger still. As Sir Martin points out, half its business – emerging markets, digital – did not exist a decade ago.

WPP agreed to pay $540 million for San Francisco based AKQA in June. AKQA is one of the largest independent digital agencies, an area of particular strategic focus for Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP.

Silicon Valley is producing a lot of startups developing digital marketing and advertising services, potential targets for WPP and its giant competitors, such as Omnicom and Publicis.

Apple, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo! have also been making large acquisitions in digital advertising companies, and has been acquiring digital marketing and analytics companies. The competition will provide some good exits for Silicon Valley investors in these sectors, and spark investment in new startups hoping to profit from this M&A trend.

Silicon Valley is increasingly becoming "Media Valley" - funding the development of cutting-edge media technologies used to power a new generation of technology-enabled media companies.

Topics: Start-Ups


In May 2004, Tom Foremski became the first journalist to leave a major newspaper, the Financial Times, to become a full-time journalist blogger. He writes the popular news blog Silicon Valley Watcher--reporting on the business of Silicon Valley. Tom arrived in San Francisco in 1984, and has covered US technology markets for leading comput... Full Bio

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