A Fort Worth-based programmatic advertising and agency management software company has received an investment from a major private equity firm.
Blackstone (NYSE:BX) on June 28 announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to make a significant equity investment in Simpli.fi. Blackstone will join existing investor GTCR, a leading private equity firm, as majority shareholders in the company. The investment, which would be made through Blackstone’s flagship private equity vehicle, values the company at approximately $1.5 billion.
Headquartered in Fort Worth, Simpli.fi is dedicated to helping media buying organizations perform more effectively and efficiently. Simpli.fi’s full suite of mission critical workflow and ad buying software enables agencies and media groups to manage their core operations and execute high ROI media spend through digital ad campaigns. Each month, the company’s innovative CTV and mobile programmatic advertising platform powers over 120,000 campaigns for 30,000 active advertisers.
GTCR acquired a majority interest in the company in 2017 and, alongside co-founders Frost Prioleau and Paul Harrison, has helped fuel Simpli.fi growth. Blackstone’s investment will enable the company to further accelerate innovation and organic growth initiatives as well as to continue executing on its targeted acquisition strategy. The investment from Blackstone is a continuation of its thematic focus on high quality digital advertising technology platforms and follows its recent investments in Liftoff and Vungle.
“We are thrilled to partner with Blackstone as we pursue the next stage of growth for Simpli.fi,” said Prioleau, who has served as Simpli.fi’s CEO since its inception, in a news release. “Blackstone’s depth of capabilities and expertise are a great complement to those of GTCR, and their investment is a validation of the fantastic work done by our team members to get us to this point.” Mr. Harrison said: “When our team created Simpli.fi’s core technology, we understood the influence and impact it would have on our industry. We’re ecstatic that Blackstone shares that vision and is a welcomed addition to our great partnership with GTCR.”
In 2018, Simpli.fi leased 77,000 square feet of office space in the Horse and Mule Barns on Mule Alley in the Fort Worth Stockyards to help accommodate its growth. The move also gave the Stockyards a major corporate headquarters in the area.
“Simpli.fi’s highly differentiated technology platform and superior customer service have made it a clear leader in its space. Digital advertising is a high-conviction investment theme at Blackstone and Simpli.fi sits at the intersection of multiple attractive tailwinds, including the continued shift in local media spend to programmatic digital and CTV,” said Sachin Bavishi, a Managing Director at Blackstone. “We are very excited to partner with the management team and GTCR to further accelerate the Company’s growth.”
“Simpli.fi has a long runway for future growth led by its talented founders and we look forward to contributing Blackstone’s resources to support the Company’s rapid growth trajectory,” said Martin Brand, Head of North American Private Equity at Blackstone and Global Co-Head of Technology Investing.
Craig Bondy, a Managing Director at GTCR, said: “We want to congratulate the entire Simpli.fi team on their accomplishments over the last three and a half years. Since we partnered with Frost and Paul, Simpli.fi has achieved impressive growth through new product investment and strategic acquisitions. We believe strongly in Simpli.fi’s future and look forward to continued growth.” Stephen Master, a Principal at GTCR added: “We are delighted to partner with Blackstone in the next phase of growth and innovation for Simpli.fi. Their domain expertise, shared vision for success and fresh perspectives will help accelerate management’s goal of becoming the leading software platform for independent advertising agencies and media buying organizations.”
Blackstone and GTCR will have equal representation on the Simpli.fi Board of Directors.
Evercore and LUMA Partners served as financial advisors, and Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal advisor to Simpli.fi and GTCR. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP served as legal advisor to Blackstone.