Digital Solutions Firm CI&T Acquires Comrade, A Strategy And Design Agency


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CI&T, one of Brazil's largest digital marketing companies, has bolstered its U.S. presence with the purchase of a 50-person solution provider based in Oakland, Calif.

Comrade, a strategy and customer experience design agency, joins CI&T's team of more than 2,500 strategists, designers and engineers in a deal that closed earlier this week, ending an 18-month-long search conducted by CI&T.

The acquisition helps CI&T add to its holdings in the U.S. About 40 percent of the company's geographic footprint is in the U.S. and CI&T's President, Bruno Guicardi, told CRN that will likely grow to more than half in the next decade.

[Related: Accenture Acquires 200-Person Solution Provider To Boost Search, Content Analytics Capabilities]

"We've gradually created a name for ourselves in that bigger [U.S.] market," Guicardi said. "This transaction helps us toward that direction – a bigger operation and more visibility."

CI&T works with global enterprises such as Coca-Cola, AB InBev, and Johnson & Johnson, providing them with design, digital transformation and technical services that include products in artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics, cloud and mobility. Comrade specializes in design and strategy but primarily deals with the financial services, health care and technology verticals. The agency's customer list features more than 30 financial-technology companies.

Like CI&T, however, many of Comrade's clients are established businesses trying to fend off threats posed by start-ups and emerging technologies. By joining forces with CI&T and gaining access to its technological resources, Comrade hopes it can better serve the "speed at scale" needs of those companies.

"We believe API [application programming interface] technology is going to be very important and continues to play a major role in how these organizations take better control of their customer experience and have more control over their own digital products and services, as opposed to relying on third-party vendors," said Comrade CEO and founder Thelton McMillian.

Comrade's regular competitors include the likes of IDEO and Accenture Fjord. McMillian said that when he spoke with companies that could potentially acquire his firm, the conversations included large consulting firms and even representatives at client-side opportunities. He cited Capital One's purchase of Adaptive Path as one example of large enterprise clients buying digital agencies.

Ultimately, CI&T became the ideal partner for Comrade because of the two companies' shared philosophy of valuing long-term relationships as well as CI&T's balance of technological prowess.

"[It] was a no-brainer for us in terms of who we should partner with and how we can differentiate from the Accentures of the world, and even ad agencies getting more into the consulting and technology business," McMillian said.

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