Home Articles BlueChilli takes the acqui-hire path to growth, picks up The New Agency

BlueChilli takes the acqui-hire path to growth, picks up The New Agency


Startup incubator BlueChilli has acquired The New Agency, a partner as well as rival, oddly enough, for an undisclosed amount subject to the achievement of performance goals.

The New Agency, co-founded by Tony Burrett and Alan Jones three years ago, is a startup-specialist digital agency, providing a range of advisory, marketing and software development services critical to new companies, enabling them to focus on their core business. It describes itself as “an exercise in lean startup methodology applied to agency service design.” Its clients have included AutoGenie, BugCrowd, EmploymentHero, evian, GoThat, GlaxoSmithKline, GPT, InForm, KinderLoop, AAP Medianet, OtherLevels, RecruitLoop, Southern Star, vtalk and The Photo Diner.

BlueChilli CEO Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin said the acquisition was a response to rapid business growth, and the need for the incubator to hasten development of startups.

Just smashing their acts together

“We’ve enjoyed a close, cooperative relationship with the team at The New Agency for more than two years, with a slightly different focus that has meant we’ve never directly competed,” said Eckersley-Maslin. “This has allowed us to see the guys in operation at close range, and we’re excited to be able to bring their knowledge and experience to bear on the growing roster of incubated startups we’re building at BlueChilli.”

BlueChilli’s deal is somewhat of an acqui-hire, picked up for the talent it has assembled.

“It’s rare to be able to recruit this depth of talent in Australia,” admitted Eckersley-Maslin, referring to the team at The New Agency.

“Tony first earned his ribbons as founder of Carsguide.com.au, the News-owned automotive startup. Alan was one of the founding team behind Yahoo! Australia & NZ (later Yahoo7) and has since built a portfolio of investments in Australian and US tech startups directly, and also through early-stage venture funds Startmate, Pollenizer and Blackbird Ventures,” he added.

Jones said The New Agency considered two options – to raise more money for its alternate agency model or transform itself into a direct competitor of BlueChilli. That “meant there was one alternative left — “smash our…together with somebody who’d already successfully made option A or B work,” Jones said in a note on the agency’s website.

Jones said The New Agency would transition over the next four months in which “we hope to complete ongoing client projects, some new short-term project leads, and set some up to be delivered by BlueChilli’s services arm, BlueChilliX.”

Jones and Burrett will join BlueChilli immediately as Chief Growth Hacker and Chief Operating Officer, respectively. Both will report to Eckersley-Maslin.

Eckersley-Maslin, a weapons engineer, left a 10-year career in the Navy to pursue his passion in working with start-ups to start BlueChilli, which dubs itself a “venture technology” firm. It creates online web applications and invests the software development in online start-ups. It plans to invest in 100 startups by 2016. It has currently made over 30 investments in early-stage and high-growth online businesses.