Dachis Gets ‘Powered’ Up

Does the world need an agency model for the social age? Internet agency pioneer Jeff Dachis thinks so.

Dachis, who cofounded Razorfish back in 1995, made another move to build a social business agency powerhouse with the acquisition of social marketing specialist Powered. The acquisition of the 60-person agency, the seventh in the past two years, brings Dachis Group to 220 employees in five countries and 10 cities.

Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Dachis Group and Powered shared a financial baker in Austin Venture Partners. Both companies are also based in Austin, Texas.

Powered brings to Dachis expertise in “activation and amplification” of social media campaigns. A typical program is recent work for Verizon that built a “Room to Learn” social learning site centered on the digital lifestyle.

Dachis Group’s previous buys have focused on other aspects of helping clients come to grips with the changes social media is bringing to their businesses. Last month it bought Facebook developer Stuzo and youth marketing shop Archrival.

Dachis Group divides what it terms social business design into three core areas: workforce collaboration, customer engagement and business partner optimization.

The broad mission makes the shop closer to a Boston Consulting Group or McKinsey than a traditional agency, according to Dachis Group North America managing director Peter Kim. There is room for social business experts, because existing agencies, including digital shops, lack the expertise, he said.

“We’ve seen the evolution of the digital space play out over the years,” said Kim. “You see the traditional agencies don’t even get digital at this point.”

Powered often competes with social marketing specialists as well as public relations firms and digital agencies, Powered CMO Aaron Strout said. Powered is itself a collection of smaller social specialist shops, having acquired Crayon, Drillteam and StepChange last January in a bid to form a large-scale social shop.

“The problem is at some of these digital agencies they have three or four smart people, and good digital people, but digital is not the same as social,” he said.

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