Aussie entrepreneur Nick Bell sells WME Group to Melbourne IT

Founded in 2008, WME is considered the largest digital agency in Australia

Australian entrepreneur, Nick Bell, the man behind WME, one of the largest digital marketing agencies in the country, has sold the company to Melbourne IT for $39 million.

The finalised deal will see Bell exit the company at the end of June 2017.

WME's Nick Bell
WME's Nick Bell

“The growth and sale of WME has been an extremely challenging and enjoyable experience,” Bell said in a statement.

“I am extremely happy to be handing over the reins to Melbourne IT, which has a great reputation for service and success. It was very important to me that the company was left in the hands of people who genuinely want to continue its growth.”

WME Group is a provider of end-to-end digital marketing solutions including search engine optimisation, search engine advertising and web design. WME Group’s market-facing brands include WME, Nothing But Web and Results First.

Bell said he will turn his attention to his other businesses, both locally and overseas, focus on angel investing, and helping other Australian startups find success.

“Personally, the time was also right for me to exit the business. I have a number of other business interests both in Australia and overseas which I want to turn my attention to and help achieve the same growth that WME did.

“I am also excited by the potential Australia is showing in providing the foundations for high-quality startups and want to become significantly more involved in nurturing and investing in the talent and ideas we have in our own backyard. I’ll be devoting plenty of time to opening my door to entrepreneurs who would like to discuss or pitch their business.”

With his last $400, Bell said he started WME in his bedroom before rapid growth led to staff of over 200, with large clients including Spalding, The Atlantic Group, Rodger David and Allied Pickfords, as well as an awards tally including a listing in the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 three years running.

During WME’s quick growth, Bell said he also started, co-founded or invested in a number of other companies in Australia and overseas.

He remains involved in these ventures including leading mobile-first agency, Appscore, and hosting company, Hosting Australia. Bell also remains head of a global group of digital companies employing 300 people across six countries and will turn part of his attention to immediate growth in Asia.

Bell’s current investments include Tribe,which recently expanded into the UK, Vervoe, Ideapod and Leadchat.

Customer value

The combination of Melbourne IT and WME Group delivers a compelling customer value proposition and is expected to deliver significant benefits through scale and scope, according to Melbourne IT.

The proposed acquisition further strengthens Melbourne IT's managed marketing capabilities and positions the company as a leader in online marketing solutions for SMBs, one of the fastest-growing segments of the technology industry, the company added.

“WME Group is a logical and strong strategic fit with MLB, where managed marketing solutions are now the growth engine for our SMB division. We expect this powerful combination will enable us to grow ARPU at faster rates through enhanced cross sell and customer retention, as well as boost critical capability in search engine optimisation solutions and advanced customer account management,” said Melbourne IT CEO, Martin Mercer.

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