Dreamscape Inc, which is backed by GTCR, has made an investment in Standard Media Index, a global advertising intelligence company. No financial terms were disclosed. As part of the transaction, SMI’s CEO James Fennessy will step down from his current position and will become a member of Dreamscape’s board of directors and remain a consultant to the business.
CHICAGO, June 2, 2022 — GTCR, a leading private equity firm founded in 1980, announced today that it has made a strategic investment in Standard Media Index (“SMI” or the “Company”), a leading global advertising intelligence company, through GTCR’s portfolio company Dreamscape, Inc. (“Dreamscape”), a partnership with marketing technology veterans Scott Knoll, David Hahn and Michael Iantosca.
Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. As part of the transaction, SMI’s Chief Executive Officer, James Fennessy, will step down from his current position and will become a member of Dreamscape’s Board of Directors and remain a consultant to the business. Mr. Knoll will assume the role of Chief Executive Officer of SMI, effective immediately.
SMI is a leading provider of advertising data and insights to media marketplace participants. SMI’s innovative platform makes it possible for the marketing industry to have a real-world view into advertising spend, ad revenue, media pricing and future-booked commitments. The Company’s data-driven intelligence approach creates clear, granular and easy-to-use data sets for clients and agency partners to leverage in determining media mix models, competitive share of spend and pricing benchmarks. SMI has office locations in New York, London, Madrid, Sydney and Toronto, providing global data services and insights to markets in 34 countries around the world. In their major markets, SMI captures spend and pricing data that represents more than 95% of all U.S. national brand expenditure.
“SMI’s leading data and ad intelligence products provide clients with real-time information to help drive better strategies around spend, placement and yield optimization,” said Mr. Knoll. “With the proliferation of media channels and ad types, the insights that SMI can help provide are now an essential driver of media strategy. The company’s deep relationships with clients and agency partners are underpinned by its customer-centric approach and its commitment to innovation. The SMI team has built a truly unique offering and, together with our partners at GTCR, we believe there is an opportunity to further advance the platform and drive growth across the business.”
Headquartered in Salt Lake City, UT, Dreamscape was founded in May 2020 as a partnership between Messrs. Knoll, Hahn and Iantosca and GTCR. The partnership’s focus is to acquire companies and assets as part of a strategy to build a leading marketing technology business. The investment in SMI is the second by Dreamscape. Last month it announced an investment in SQAD, a leading advertising research, analytics, and media planning software company.
“We see tremendous upside potential in SMI and its advertising software solutions,” said Craig Bondy, Managing Director and Co-Head of TMT at GTCR. “The Company is well-positioned in the marketing and advertising industry with deep relationships with its partners and customers which have served it well. We believe that our investment, alongside the Dreamscape team, will provide the resources to expand SMI’s current product portfolio to address new markets and create fully integrated solutions for its customers. We are excited to partner with the SMI team and advance its mission.”
The formation of the Dreamscape partnership is part of GTCR’s unique Leaders Strategy™ approach, finding and partnering with management leaders in core domains to identify, acquire and build market-leading companies through transformational acquisitions and organic growth. Messrs. Knoll, Hahn and Iantosca are 20+ year veterans of the technology, marketing and advertising industries. They worked together from 2011 to 2019, most recently as Chief Executive Officer, Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Revenue Officer, respectively, at Integral Ad Science (“IAS”), a leading marketing technology business that measures media quality to verify and optimize the placement of digital ads through its fraud, viewability, brand safety and optimization capabilities. During this time, they grew IAS from a startup to a global leader in the ad verification industry.
“GTCR has a long track record of investing in the marketing and advertising technology sector and SMI has long been an innovative leader which we have admired for its data intelligence tools,” said Stephen Master, Principal at GTCR. “The opportunity to partner with the SMI team and drive forward its innovation is one that we were incredibly enthusiastic about. We believe that the combination of SMI’s data tools and its culture of delivering for clients is truly exceptional.”
With a vision to bring transparency and efficiency to the media market globally, SMI was co-founded by Sue Fennessy and Jane Ractliffe in 2009 in Australia and moved headquarters to New York in 2011. Fennessy served as Chief Executive Officer until 2016, where she grew a world-class team, built the tech and data infrastructure, which now tracks over $250 billion dollars of annual media spend globally, secured exclusive agreements with the world’s largest media agencies, and oversaw commercial deals with many of the world’s largest media companies. James Fennessy, who had been Chief Commercial Officer, then assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer. Under his leadership, SMI has successfully grown global coverage, revenue, financial market products, and developed a host of innovative media spend and cross-screen pricing solutions, which have turned into market-leading products. These products fuel inventory management, planning and yield optimization, and have become the backbone for media trading for leaders on both the buy and sell side.
“Today is an important milestone for the entire SMI team, our partners and our clients, as we look toward our next stage of growth,” said Mr. Fennessy. “This investment is a culmination of Sue’s vision for SMI and a testament to the dedication and professionalism of the SMI team that has enabled us to transform how transparent ad cost and spend data is used by the industry. The goal of SMI has always been to form strategic relationships with the world’s leading data-driven companies by providing actionable advertising expenditure and pricing data to ultimately help improve decision making. It is through this core mission that we have grown to be a trusted global source of ad intelligence. This partnership with GTCR and Dreamscape is the next step in our journey and we are all very excited at the potential this new venture will deliver for our partners and customers.”
Kirkland & Ellis and Clayton Utz acted as legal advisors and LUMA Partners acted as financial advisor to GTCR and Dreamscape. DLA Piper acted as legal advisor and Stifel Nicolaus & Co. acted as financial advisor to SMI.
Founded in 1980, GTCR is a leading private equity firm focused on investing in growth companies in the Business & Consumer Services, Financial Services & Technology, Healthcare and Technology, Media & Telecommunications industries. The Chicago-based firm pioneered The Leaders Strategy™ – finding and partnering with management leaders in core domains to identify, acquire and build market-leading companies through transformational acquisitions and organic growth. Since its inception, GTCR has invested more than $20 billion in over 250 companies. For more information, please visit www.gtcr.com. Follow us on LinkedIn.