Arun Sudhaman 24 Apr 2017 // 7:59AM GMT
LONDON — Chameleon has been acquired by CEO Tom Berry and MD Tom Buttle, in a management buyout (MBO) that follows the duo's arrival at the UK tech PR firm in 2013.
Berry (pictured) and Buttle acquire 100% of the business from Helen Holland, who founded Chameleon in 1998. Holland, who most recently served as chair of the company, will remain with Chameleon for six months in a consultancy role.
"This is an exciting management buy out for me because the two Toms make the perfect union to take Chameleon onto the next phase of its life," said Holland. "I wanted to hand Chameleon to people who are truly passionate about what we do, how we do it and most importantly building a team of people who have fun creating success for our clients. They are the ones."
While rapid growth characterised Chameleon's first decade in business, the arrival of Berry and Buttle breathed new life into the agency in 2013. A revamp of Chameleon’s positioning and capabilities has led to double-digit annual growth since then, with average client fees doubling.
"Chameleon is a brilliant place to work and I’ve made no secret of the fact that we like to be a little bit different in our approach and culture," said Berry. "I think it is this difference that has attracted some of the best and most disruptive clients and has contributed to our last three years of double-digit, year-on-year growth. I want to thank Helen for giving us the opportunity to carry on this great work under our ownership."
Profits at the firm increased 33% in 2016, with new clients GitHub, Groupon and Digital Catapult joining a roster that includes DocuSign, Unify, Spiceworks, Code42 and Forbidden Technologies.
"Helen built the business on a willingness to explore different approaches and work with new technologies, and that’s still an important part of our culture," added Buttle. "Within Chameleon we talk about being 'devoted to business' — the commitment both to our own and our clients’ business needs. We’ll be keeping that devotion to business, in a way that lets us do interesting and creative work."
Both Berry and Buttle worked at FleishmanHillard before joining Chameleon. Berry also counts a lengthy stint at Inferno/Bite on his CV, while Buttle worked at Catalysis.