Psyop's New Deal: A Q&A With Justin Booth-Clibborn

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Justin Booth-Clibborn
Justin Booth-Clibborn
Last week we told you about Psyop's newest team-up, with Fortissimo Acquisition Corporation. Justin Booth-Clibborn, executive producer-turned-CEO, goes in depth about the deal.

So, explain this deal for the finance-averse creative in the audience. Is this a 50% buyout, as reported elsewhere?

No. We're doing a reverse merger into Fortissimo; it's a specific financial mechanism that is designed to take companies of our size public. It's called a Special Purpose Acquisition Corporation, it's essentially a shell company, an existing public entity that is formed by a group of investors who all bring money to the table, and then they look for a company they consider a good investment, and then the companies merge. What happens when they merge is Fortissimo comes to the table with cash, that's all they have, and Psyop comes to the table with the company, and then they form one big company that's renamed Psyop. It's not like Fortissimo is buying Psyop, it's a merger. And then we, the management of the new company, it's the current management of Psyop.

So there'll be no restructuring to include Fortissimo people?

The only new person we're going to be bringing in is a new CFO, because being a CFO of a public company these days, obviously there's a lot of compliance and that's not something our current financial person has experience in, so we're looking for a CFO.

But there'll be a board of directors with Fortissimo representatives, yes?

Yes, there's going to be a board and we haven't selected who's going to be on that board yet, but there's going to be one Fortissimo person and two Psyop people and then additional independents, people who are neither employed by Fortissimo or Psyop, they're independent people.

But not much is going to change in the day-to-day running of the company?

Psyop's Partners
Psyop's Partners
Absolutely, day-to-day running remains in the hands of the people who are running Psyop right now. My role will change a little bit, obviously being the CEO of a public company brings with it some responsibilities that I haven't faced up to now, but I'll be very much involved in what I do now, the public running of the company.

What happens next? Psyop shares may be listed on NASDAQ?

That's a ways down the line. It may happen in a year, but we have no way of predicting when that's going to happen. But the day the deal closes, even now, you can go out and buy shares in Fortissimo. You've got to find someone who's selling them, that's the issue. There aren't that many people who hold the shares.

How concerned were you with finding out who owned parts of Fortissimo?

We've met some of them. The people that I've met, I feel comfortable are going to let us get on with running our business.

What were the early stages of this process like?

It was kind of right-place-right-time, it came through a personal connection between one of our partners and a consultant that was working with Fortissimo. Fortissimo started talking to us around about seven or eight months ago.

Was it a pretty easy decision?

We weren't looking to do anything like this, and we're a pretty skeptical bunch of people, so there was a lot of debate about it. But we really felt at the end of the day it's a really great opportunity for us to bring in capital to fund our growth whilst retaining our financial and creative independence. For us, that's the crux of it. We have some exciting growth plans and we need to fund those. And this enables us to bring in funds to make those happen and we feel like we're not compromising on our independence, either financially or creatively.

I think the other thing that is an important part off this deal is the ability that going public offers us to include people in the partnership. To have our current employees and future employees share in the ownership.

Stock options; based on seniority or on a case-by-case basis?

It's going to be both, obviously we want to recognize the contribution of many of our longstanding people who got us to this point, helped us grow to this point, and to recognize the talent that we have and the talent that we're growing as well.

$30 million will buy a lot of uniforms for Team Psyop, seen here at the adidas Fanatic tournament last year.
$30 million will buy a lot of uniforms for Team Psyop, seen here at the adidas Fanatic tournament last year.
One of the terms of the deal is that either the target company is based in Israel or willing to open an office there, what are the plans to adhere to that?

We've already had a report done by a consultant and there's a plan on the table to leverage the technology expertise in Israel to help us with the development of our pipeline software.

What has reaction among staff been like?

We actually told all the staff last week, over the course of the week, and people are really excited about the possibilities that this offers us, it' s a big step, and it's an unusual step for a company in our space, but genuinely people are excited.

What's next in the company's growth? What are you going to do with all this money?

We have real, concrete plans for our organic growth, and we ourselves have ideas of ways we could invest money. There are great opportunities and I believe these opportunities are expanding in the media landscape right now, and I really, hand-on-heart, believe we're well-positioned to take advantage of the changing landscape and the opportunities that are coming on line on a daily basis, nationally and internationally.

Are there plans for international expansion, other than Israel?

Yes, we're looking at the possibility of an operation in Europe. I don't have a timeline on that, but possibly end of this year.

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