The purchase is a gateway to Silicon Valley for BlueFocus, which
got its start as a PR company focused on China's tech scene. For
Fuseproject, which was founded in 1999 and has offices in San
Francisco and New York, the appeal was apparently the freedom
Mr. Béhar, who will stay on with the firm, said
Fuseproject had talked to other potential partners but didn't want
to lose its independence.
"The other kinds of people we've talked to are large advertising
networks, where you are very small fish in a very big pond," he
The Financial Times. "The idea here is to set the tone and to
be the big fish in a small pond that is growing."
"We are the first of what could potentially be an interesting
design-centric group based in the U.S.," he was quoted as saying.
"Because we are the first, we can reinvent what it means to be a
network." Mr. Behar could not be reached independently for
The Financial Times reported that BlueFocus will
pay $46.7 million for 75% of Fuseproject, to be paid out over
The Chinese communications group has clients including Lenovo,
BMW and PepsiCo. It ranked 17th on Ad Age's 2014 list of the
largest agency companies globally. Its revenues were $579 million
last year, up 68% from 2012, boosted by acquisitions.
BlueFocus, founded in 1996 and listed on the Shenzhen stock
market, has turned its focus to the U.S. after making several deals
in the U.K. last year. Earlier this month, it announced a
multi-year partnership with Clear Channel Outdoor to
promote Chinese brands using digital out-of-home media in Times
Square and at U.S. airports.
Last October, it bought a nearly 20% stake in London-based
Huntsworth, a PR and health-care agency. In March, BlueFocus
acquired London-based social-media agency We Are Social.
BlueFocus has set big goals for itself: It aims to increase its
revenue tenfold within 10 years. The company also wants 33% of its
business by then to come from outside China.