Happiness Factory: Psyop 'Sold' for $30 Million

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Psyop, the New York-based VFX and animation studio responsible for spots like Coca-Cola's "Happiness Factory" has merged with an Israeli-based acquisitions company for $10 million in cash and $20 million in stock.

Based on the agreement, executive producer Justin Booth-Clibborn becomes CEO of the new venture, which could get an additional $14 million in cash and stock if performance goals are reached over the next three years. Representatives from Psyop declined to comment.

The deal is essentially a merger with a company that's already public. Fortissimo is a Special Purpose Acquisition Corporation, or SPAC, a company set up so general shareholders can function like private equity firms and offer IPO-like deals to companies of their choosing.

The terms of Fortissimo's 2005 formation require a business partner, if not located in Israel, to establish a presence there. As a result, Psyop will open an R&D facility in Israel focused on creating software and tools. According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, when the deal is done in June, Fortissimo will be renamed Psyop and attempt to have its shares listed on Nasdaq.

Psyop was founded in 2000 by Eben Mears, Marie Hyon, Marco Spier, Kylie Matulick and Todd Mueller, and has spawned Blacklist, a company supporting younger content producers. The firm reported an audited revenue of $15.8 million in 2006.

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