Bellevue market research firm GMI was acquired today by an even bigger player, the global marketing company WPP.
GMI was already one of the five largest providers of market research, with thousands of customers from the Fortune 500 down. Now the combined company will be the largest provider, with research panels around the globe, Chief Executive Michael Brochu said.
“At the end of the day money’s money but it’s always nice when the biggest, baddest guy on the block is the one that wants you,” he said.
GMI employs 230, including 80 in Bellevue and the rest at offices around the world. It’s on track to have sales of $78 million this year, up from $65 million last year.
Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed but Brochu said investors and the company are “happy” with the outcome. Venture capitalists put around $50 million into GMI, which was founded on Mercer Island in 1999 by Rob Monster.
Brochu said GMI wasn’t actively trying to be sold but was always open to the possibility, especially since it had taken venture funding.
“We did a nice job of making ourselves attractive,” he said.
GMI is becoming part of Lightspeed Research, which is part of WPP’s Kantar group. The release said the deal adds research panels in 13 countries to Lightspeed’s portfolio, including the addition of Brazil, Mexico, India and “numerous Asian markets.”
The companies will operate independently through 2011. No layoffs are expected, aside from Brochu’s departure.
“I’m going to transition out – you can’t have two CEOs,” he said. “I’m probably the sole casualty.”
London-based WPP already has a large presence in the Seattle area, where subsidiaries such as JWT and Wunderman have offices and the company has invested in startups such as Visible Technologies.