While breaking news isn’t the central focus of Social Media Explorer, we caught wind of this story a bit before the rest of the world.
Maggie Fox’s Social Media Group has agreed in principle to acquire Geoff Livingston’s Livingston Communications and The Buzz Bin, one of the top social media and public relations blogs in the U.S. The purchase will make SMG the world’s largest independent social media marketing and communications firm and will be completed in August. SMG will now have offices in Toronto, Calgary and Washington, D.C. Livingston will become Executive Vice President, Americas and continue to head the Washington office.
Livingston is the author of “Now is Gone: A Primer on New Media for Executives and Entrepreneurs,” a book I highly recommend for folks starting to toe the waters of social media. Give it to your bosses. They might actually start getting it. Click here to buy from Amazon.
So there’s a new thing in social media. I don’t recall a case of one firm buying another yet. The historic (I’m assuming) deal may be an indication that some of the specialty shops out there are getting big enough to expand internationally, if you want to call Canada-America, “international.” It could also mean that specialty social media shops are struggling a bit and need to join forces to compete with established PR firms and ad agencies getting smart about social media. I doubt it’s the latter as brands around the world are adding social media programming almost daily.
I consider both Maggie and Geoff friends and am thrilled for both of them. They talk like it’s a huge step in the right direction for all involved. Geoff told me this weekend acquisition was the end game for him with Livingston Communications and the deal frees him up to do what he does best — advise clients and develop strategies — and not have to spend the requisite time running a business when you are the owner/proprietor. He did admit that working for someone else will be and adjustment, but that since he’ll be running the D.C. office there will still be a good amount of autonomy.
The Buzz Bin won’t change much, other than a little SMG badge. Geoff says there will be a, “content upgrade,” but he’s been providing great content for a long time, so I’m not sure, other than bringing in Maggie and some others at SMG, what that means.
Maggie is a smart CEO and the two of them get along famously. I don’t doubt the deal will work out well for both parties. Livingston’s clients are getting more depth and breadth of experience behind their work. SMG is getting the same.
What was interesting to me is how quickly the deal evolved. According to Geoff, “We began our conversation at the BlogPotomac Speakers dinner on June 12. It was casual industry discussion, and Maggie mentioned that we’d be a dangerous team. I agreed. Next thing you know casual industry chatter turned into an intense serious business discussion that actually sprayed off some of our table mates. By the end of the evening, we were agreed to give it a shot. We continued our conversation through the conference, and by July 1 I visited SMG in Toronto. The rest is history.”
Good for them. And good for their clients.
Oh, and I did ask. Geoff does not automatcially become Canadian.