Dealmaker Q&A: Truelink Capital on Acquiring Ansira
Luke Myers of Truelink shares what made marketing business Ansira a strategic fit for the firm’s investment criteria and why he’s optimistic about AI
When Truelink Capital, a middle-market private equity firm based in Los Angeles, acquired Ansira Partners, a global marketing services and solutions company, the firm saw it as a strategic match for its investing thesis. Luke Myers, co-founder and managing partner at Truelink, talks about the deal, how he thinks AI will impact tech-enabled services and why ESG is central to his firm’s mission.
Middle Market Growth: When sourcing this deal, what were you looking for in an investment target, and how does Ansira fill those requirements?
LM: Truelink aims to invest in companies with strong cash flow generation, sticky and stable customers, niche market leaders, value creation opportunities and buy-and-build opportunities. With any investment, Truelink will remain true to its core investment criteria: (a) relative value-oriented, (b) opportunities to drive growth through operational and commercial initiatives and (c) an ability to drive growth via M&A. Ansira fits perfectly into our portfolio and checks all our investment criteria boxes. The company provides sticky solutions to its blue-chip customer base across various end markets and operates in a massive market with favorable industry trends. We hired a new CEO at Ansira, Paul Tibbitt, who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in scaling businesses and fostering client success, go-to-market and sales strategies and organizational excellence.
MMG: What attracted your firm to the marketing tech sector, and how does this deal fit into your broader investment strategy?
LM: We have significant experience in the marketing technology sector and have ample knowledge from evaluating deals in the space, both at Truelink and at Platinum Equity. At Platinum, I led the acquisition of Cision, a leading global provider of software and services to PR, marketing and social media management professionals. At Truelink, we recently acquired a business in August 2023 called Flipp, a marketing technology platform that works with some of the largest retailers and CPG companies to automate, publish and distribute digitally-native merchandising content. As such, Ansira fits perfectly into our investment strategy and adds to our portfolio of companies in the tech-enabled services vertical.
MMG: What are some industry headwinds you’re watching in the marketing/tech area, and how will you drive growth for Ansira despite those challenges?
LM: Given the current economic environment, we are hyper-focused on assessing recessionary risk and its potential negative impact on broader advertising budgets. In light of these potential headwinds, we invest in businesses that are critical to our clients’ marketing and commercial strategies that also have flexible, scalable cost structures to preserve profitability in the event of a downturn. We believe Ansira is well-protected given its diversified end-market and customer mix, and we have established a clear operational plan to drive growth by investing in the commercial organization to drive demand generation, grow via M&A and have assembled a strong new executive team including a new CEO and strategic advisors.
MMG: Truelink focuses on the tech-enabled services sector and you yourself have years of experience in the space. How do you see AI and other generative learning tools impacting the sector in coming years?
LM: We are excited about AI and other generative learning tools and how those can shape our businesses. We believe advancements in generative AI and large language models will allow businesses in the space to reduce operating costs, improve client and customer acquisition and increase yield in the mid- and long-term. Companies like Ansira are utilizing new AI models to improve content metadata which allow for more accurate search results, personalization and ad targeting. While AI risk is certainly a key diligence area for us in every potential investment, we also deeply evaluate opportunities in which we can utilize AI to positively impact our investments.
MMG: Truelink has an ESG-focused mission of leaving companies better than you found them. How do you see that mission impacting your value creation strategy for portcos?
LM: ESG principles are a critical component of Truelink’s investing strategy and values. The firm is committed to considering environmental, social and governance issues in its investment decisions and ongoing management of portfolio companies. To incorporate ESG considerations into Truelink’s investment process, Truelink has created a framework that sets forth specific ESG considerations that are relevant to the firm’s focus industries. The framework draws upon global ESG standards and highlights certain potentially material ESG risks and opportunities that may affect a target’s operations during the investment horizon. We seek to integrate ESG principles and initiatives into our investment strategy to create stable, sustainable platforms that drive shared value for key stakeholders.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Hilary Collins is ACG’s Associate Editor.
Middle Market Growth is produced by the Association for Corporate Growth. To learn more about the organization and how to become a member, visit www.acg.org.