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WPP acquires CIC – congrats to Sam Flemming & the team!

I am very happy to announce that Chinese leading social business intelligence provider CIC was officially acquired by WPP’s Kantar Media. The deal took quite some time to negotiate, but I am very happy for founders Sam and Vennie and the rest of the team that the deal has now officially closed.

I have been on the board of CIC since 2007 when I led the angel round for the company. It was a great ride over the past couple of years (like every young, growing company with ups and downs), and I am impressed by what the management team and the rest of the CIC family managed to achieve over these past years. CIC not only built a very strong portfolio of services and clients, but it also managed to build and keep a very strong company culture. It’s a company that people love to work for, and I am sure that has helped for the sale to WPP as well.

On behalf of all the angel investors I would like to thank Sam, Vennie, Daisy, Denis and Paul for their hard work and dedication to get this deal done. As an investor you never know whether an angel investment will eventually pay off, but this team made it work. It’s a pity that I will now have to leave the CIC board, but I look back to the past couple of years with good memories.

At the quarterly CIC board meeting at their Shanghai office

The official press release:

Kantar Media to acquire leading Chinese social business intelligence agency CIC

Deal extends WPP unit’s capabilities in social media listening and analysis into world’s second largest ad market

Kantar Media, the media research and insights division of Kantar, has expanded its social media offer in China with the acquisition of CIC, a leader in the Chinese Social media listening and analysis industry. The deal will build on the company’s significant global presence and activities in media market research and insights with 5,000 staff across 60 markets, with CIC working along with the other leading Kantar Media partnerships in China including CSM and CTR. Kantar Media is a unit of Kantar, the consumer insight arm of WPP, the world’s largest communications services group.

The acquisition comes in response to the growing client need for the real-time monitoring of consumer brand conversations in a market with over 70% of the 500 million Internet users on social media and with over 50,000 enterprises owning a microblog account. It gives Kantar Media a strong base in China and Asia Pacific for social media intelligence and insights as China this year became the world’s second largest advertising market.

Founded in 2004 and with offices in Shanghai and Beijing, CIC coined the now standard Chinese industry term Internet Word of Mouth (IWOM) and pioneered the concept of social business in China. With a team of over 60 social media consultants, innovative dashboards solutions and patent pending in technologies such as Chinese language text mining, CIC has led the industry in developing and applying social media intelligence and insights across its roster of blue-chip clients includes 5 brands out of the top 10 listed in Brandz Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands, and is at the forefront of monetizing the social business industry in China.

Sam Flemming, founder and chairman of CIC, commented: “In joining Kantar Media, we will provide our clients with accessible, intelligent and meaningful analysis of brand discussions wherever they take place. We will also develop new client offers by identifying the synergies between our data set – including an archive of over 3 billion consumer brand mentions – and Kantar Media’s vast data resources. Further, the relationship will allow CIC to bring social business intelligence and insight to Kantar and across the whole WPP network as well as
replicate its success in the broader Asia Pacific market.”

The CIC team will remain based in Shanghai and Beijing, China, and its management team will report to Jean-Michel Portier, global CEO of Kantar Media.

Portier said: “It is clear that the monitoring of consumer, brand and market discussions and the resulting insights are vital tools for executives worldwide. With Kantar Media Cymfony, we are already committed to maximizing our clients’ success in monitoring and analyzing consumer discussions in the US and in Europe. With CIC, we are achieving another milestone to establishing the same recognition for excellence in China that Cymfony already has .CIC is an exciting and successful company. CIC will enrich our global digital expertise in capturing millions of online conversations and “making sense of the buzz” in order to provide interpretation that informs strategic decisions and leads to action.”

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  1. Marc, thanks for all of your support through the years. Truly a great board member, adviser, and friend. I look forward to working together on new projects in the future.