We haven’t heard very much from Ajaz Ahmed’s AKQA since WPP bought it for £348m back in 2012. There’ve been a few departures, as you’d expect, but nothing too dramatic.
Now AKQA may be spreading its wings a bit, possibly in the light of rival Publicis Groupe’s much larger ($3.7bn) deal to buy Sapient. Sapient isn’t really an advertising company – apart from its Sapient Nitro division – and maybe AKQA isn’t these days either.
AKQA is buying a majority stake in London-based digital outfit Potato, which specialises in “designing and building complex, secure and scalable web applications.” Its work sits at the heart of many influential marketing campaigns, according to WPP. Potato is led by CEO Jason Cartwright (pictured with Ahmed below) and employs about 100 people in London, Bristol and San Francisco.
WPP gets about a third of its revenue from digital ($7bn out of $19bn) and says its target is 40-45 per cent, which has been the target for some time now. It may need a bigger deal or two to reach this. The difficulty being, of course, that there aren’t many independent digital agencies out there that are big enough.