Chicago firm buys ma­jor­ity stake in R2i

Dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing agency based here gets what it needs to ‘go big,’ CEO says

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Sarah Gantz sarah.gantz@balt­ twit­­gantz

R2in­te­grated, a Bal­ti­more-based dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing agency, an­nounced Thurs­day that Chicago in­vest­ment firm Baird Cap­i­tal has ac­quired a ma­jor­ity in­ter­est in the firm.

Un­der the deal, the agency’s se­nior man­age­ment will re­tain a stake in the com­pany and CEO Matt God­dard will re­main in his po­si­tion. Fi­nan­cial terms were not dis­closed.

The move is in­tended to give R2i the fi­nan­cial back­ing and lead­er­ship sup­port it needs to “go big,” God­dard said in an in­ter­view.

“Strate­gi­cally, the com­pany is very well po­si­tioned for growth in the fu­ture,” he said. “We just needed a lit­tle more horse­power to achieve it and Baird brings us that horse­power.”

R2i works with com­pa­nies to de­velop dig­i­tal and tech­nol­ogy-driven mar­ket­ing strate­gies. Clients in­clude Mi­crosoft, Her­shey, Chevron, the Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety, Sy­man­tec and MasterCard.

Founded in 2003, the com­pany has grown in part through ac­qui­si­tions of smaller firms. Last year, R2i ac­quired Make Me So­cial in New York City and Cat­a­pultWorks in Sil­i­con Val­ley.

In ad­di­tion to its Bal­ti­more head­quar­ters on Pratt Street in the for­mer Ex­am­iner building, R2i has of­fices in Seat­tle, New York City and Sil­i­con Val­ley. The com­pany em­ploys 200 peo­ple, in­clud­ing 80 in Mary­land.

Baird’s fi­nan­cial back­ing will sup­port fur­ther growth and ac­qui­si­tions at R2i. Chicago, Los An­ge­les and the Mid­west are among the areas the com­pany may con­sider for ex­pan­sion, God­dard said.

As part of the deal, Owen Sul­li­van, an op­er­at­ing part­ner at Baird, will serve as chair­man of R2i’s board.

R2i sought an in­vestor that could bring in an in­dus­try vet­eran like Sul­li­van to bol­ster the com­pany’s man­age­ment and op­er­a­tions, God­dard said. He said he will look to Sul­li­van, who has been in the busi­ness for 30 years, to guide R2i’s lead­er­ship through the com­pany’s next stage of growth.

“We be­lieve there is sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­nity for an agency of R2i’s size to lead the mid-mar­ket with its tech­nol­ogy ex­per­tise and abil­ity to build and run multi-chan­nel cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ences,” said Tom Costello, prin­ci­pal at Baird Cap­i­tal, in a state­ment. “Our in­vest­ment is in­tended to scale and fuel their growth more quickly, both or­gan­i­cally and through ac­qui­si­tions.”

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