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UpCurve Buys Closely, which is Powered by ThriveHive, All Owned by GateHouse

As local media and marketing companies seek to offer a full-stack of marketing services to SMBs, mergers, acquisitions and overall consolidation continues around the industry. Earlier this week Web.com announced the acquisition of Acquisio for an undisclosed sum. Yesterday, SMB solution provider UpCurve, powered by ThriveHive which is the digital arm of GateHouse Media, has acquired Closely (an LSA member) best known for its SMB mobile app Perch.

The acquisition is representative of a broader trend: digital transformation via acquisition. As legacy media companies seek to broaden offerings, digital marketing is the logical next step. In this case, Gatehouse, one of the largest publishers of locally-based media in the U.S., is expanding digital offerings by acquiring Closely’s social media management software.

The Perch app has aggregated the live social data of over 500,000 business locations across six social channels allowing SMBs to monitor social posts and reviews for their business and competitors. UpCurve, the acquiring company, is an SMB provider of digital marketing, CRM, cloud solutions and more.

In an interview on Street Fight, Closely Founder Perry Evans said that he saw consolidation coming in the local marketing space and wanted to get ahead of that trend. In addition, Surepath Capital, the deal broker, reinforced this by saying in an email newsletter, “we are definitely seeing signs of increasing consolidation across the marketing stack in order to create the full solutions that customers want.”

As the headline outlines, the deal has implications for a variety of entities. It is also noteworthy that GateHouse wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the press release, suggesting a decision to keep that brand separate from the activities of its ThriveHive digital business.

What remains to be seen is the strategy for integrating Closely into ThriveHive and UpCurve. From a branding perspective, Closely’s Perch app has an established SMB audience, making brand changes a bit more complicated. In addition, with multiple digital brands now under the GateHouse umbrella, how do they relate to the larger brand story?

These issues call into question the value of long-standing legacy brands in a market that is shifting toward digital technologies. It will be interesting to see how these acquisitions are communicated to the market via new products, new brands, product enhancements or otherwise.

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