The year 2020 has been a busy one for the Singapore-based brand enablement platform AnyMind Group. The LINE and JAFCO Asia-backed company completed three M&A deals this year and says it is open to more. It has not lost sight of its IPO ambitions either.
The firm is eyeing acquisitions to drive deeper into segments such as e-commerce, cloud manufacturing, and direct-to-consumer brands, AnyMind’s CEO and co-founder Kosuke Sogo told DealStreetAsia. This would complement AnyMind’s expertise in offering products and services to the influencer marketing and advertising ecosystem.
It is also open to M&As in Japan and India since these are the markets where Sogo and his chief operating officer (COO), Rohit Sharma, are currently based.
Of the three M&As that AnyMind has done this year, two were Japanese acquisitions — influencer network GROVE Japan in January, and apparel company LYFT in March. The size of both transactions remains undisclosed.
Its most recent deal, though, was perhaps its most strategic — a merger with Indian mobile advertising platform Pokkt in March, which allowed AnyMind to enter India and the Middle East for the first time. The deal also offered AnyMind access to Pokkt’s video mobile ads and marketing expertise.
“The founders of Pokkt also wanted to expand into the Japanese market because they knew that influencer marketing had huge potential… I really respect the founders and believe strongly in their vision,” said Sogo. “They possess strong management capabilities and are very good at managing people and entities in or related to Southeast Asia.”
The deals came shortly after the firm announced a $26.4m funding round in March led by Japan Post’s corporate venture arm, Japan Post Capital. AnyMind’s existing investors, including Japan’s Mirai Creation Fund II, also participated in the round.
Till date, the firm has raised $62.3 million from a number of strategic investors including Japan’s Tokyo Century Corporation, LINE, Mirai Creation Fund, JAFCO Asia, and Thai offline-to-online solutions provider VGI Global Media.
Sogo added that the firm is also weighing its IPO options in Asia Pacific, which could be in Japan, Hong Kong, or Singapore. He declined to provide a deadline on listing plans, citing uncertainties in the macroeconomic environment. However, Sogo shared that the firm had IPO ambitions from the very onset, and since 2016 has hired an auditor to keep its financials in order in preparation for an eventual listing.
Founded in 2016 by Sogo and fellow Japanese entrepreneur Otohiko Kozutsumi, AnyMind began as a digital marketing company before rapidly expanding into a wide variety of verticals across influencer marketing, entertainment, and human resources technology.
The firm generated $62 million (6.5 billion yen) in revenue in 2019 with 40 per cent of it coming from Japan, 20-30 per cent from Southeast Asia especially Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and the rest from Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, and the Middle East. Sogo declined to share if the company is profit-generating at the moment but said that AnyMind’s financials continue to hold steady even in the midst of COVID-19.
It serves a spectrum of clients across more than 175,000 content creators and online influencers, and over 3,000 ad agencies, media firms, and corporate brands. Some of its prominent clientele include Unilever, SKII, ANA, Grab, Traveloka, and regional e-commerce platforms.
AnyMind also sees itself deepening its product offering in e-commerce and logistics, which would see it competing more closely with existing e-commerce players like Alibaba, Shopee, and Tokopedia which have all developed similar capabilities in the B2B space.
Sogo added that more offline businesses have increased their online ad spend even as enterprises overall are keeping a tight lid on marketing spend due to the current economic crisis.