Market Overview

Acquity's Chris Dalton Looks to Future After IPO


On Friday, Acquity Group (NYSE: AQ) went public, listing on the NYSE. For the founders of the leading brand e-commerce and digital marketing company that uses the internet, mobile devices and social media to enhance their clients' brands and e-commerce performance, it was a huge day. CEO Chris Dalton spoke to Benzinga to give us the scoop.

Today was a big day, huh?
Oh, it's an exciting day. I'm losing my voice a little bit, because I've done so many interviews.

Can you give us an overview of company?
We started the company in 2001 in Chicago, myself and the founders. We've been in the internet industry since its inception. We knew that the internet would become the most important business channel, so we set out to build the best digital marketing and brand e-commerce solution company. We think we've done a very good job of doing that. We've been growing at a very consistent pace throughout the years.

Why is now the right time for the IPO?
We're very excited about what's happening in the marketplace. The internet was once 3-5% of company revenues, now you see big retailers talking about revenue growth to 20,30,40%. Significant dollars are being invested in organizations like ours. We think the listing process gives us not only prestige but it assures our customers visibility into the way we operate the business and the strength of our balance sheet. We're excited about this opportunity, and we think we're absolutely in the right space.

What do you hope to achieve, both in terms of profile and financially, through the IPO?
We picked up some resources today to strengthen the balance sheet, to give us the opportunity if we so desire in the future to look at strategic acquisitions. Our business is about driving business for customers, so in any of the different e-commerce initiatives or content management initiatives where we're branding the customer, we want to make sure we can show them rich, transactive value. That can either be in the number of conversions, or the stickiness of the relationships they're creating, or it could be the revenues, both top and bottom line. The proceeds from the listing will give us the opportunities to do that.

It's early days, but there has been a slightly muted reaction from investors…
We're very excited, but we also think that there's a misunderstanding. I've done a ton of interviews, and the first question is, are you a Chinese company? It's a good question, because I want to answer it and make sure it's clear in the marketplace. If you look at all of our revenues coming from U.S. customers, we've had an 11 year history of serving brands here in the U.S. We opened up an office in Shanghai and Beijing because we see the Chinese market at one point evolving to a stage where it will be the formidable online channel. It's going to be there. We're not just jumping in and trying to replicate services there today. We've been incubating some things that give us visibility and how the consumer's operating, how they're buying things in both social as well as mobile, and we think that we will be able to help our customers that we've been serving for 11 years enter that market in a pure digital way when the opportunity comes.

What is the longer-term vision for the company?
We see ourselves continuing to be benefited by this explosive growth in internet. We're excited about the investment and the types of things customers are engaging us with, and the duration of those types of engagements. So I think you'll continue to see us grow into the future while delivering very strong value to our shareholders.

Finally, how good did that opening bell sound today?
The best sound I've heard in my life.

Folllow me @BCallwood.

Posted-In: News IPOs


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