Ottawa digital services pioneer nonlinear creations acquired by Europe’s Valtech

Randy Woods
Nonlinear creations co-founder Randy Woods.

After 23 years as an independent business, Ottawa-based nonlinear creations has been acquired. Valtech, a European firm, acquired the pioneering digital studio for an undisclosed amount.

While nonlinear creations was growing well, with international expansions to the United States, the United Kingdom and Brazil, the market was growing more quickly. Co-founder Randy Woods said the firm “had to do something” to avoid losing market share, and a year ago began exploring options including raising funds, acquiring firms or being acquired itself.

Joining the larger Valtech, Mr. Woods says, gives nonlinear creations a path forward.

“Their understanding of the global marketplace and their ability to work in more than one country really excited us and gave us a chance to play on that bigger landscape,” he says, adding that the nonlinear team will now have access to bigger international clients.

Nonlinear launched in 1995 “when the internet was brand new,” says Mr. Woods, making a name for itself early on by launching the National Gallery of Canada’s first website and serving high-profile local clients such as Nortel, Newbridge Networks and JDS Uniphase – until the dot-com crash hit Ottawa hard.

Mr. Woods says he’s proud of how he kept the company running through shifting business conditions, but says he’s even more pleased he was able to do it with his co-founder, Shannon Ryan. Most business relationships, he says, don’t have nearly the longevity that theirs has.

“Some don’t last for the first couple weeks, we managed to get it done for 23 years,” he says.

What Mr. Woods’ role will be from here on is still up in the air, but he’s confident he’ll be slotted in wherever his skills are best suited. He says he doesn’t anticipate any staffing reductions related to the acquisition, either. The company’s worldwide headcount is roughly 85 today, with 23 at the Ottawa headquarters, 22 in Toronto, a few in the U.K. and the U.S. and the remainder in Brazil.

Mr. Woods says he’s pleased to have built a company with longstanding employees, many serving for more than a decade with nonlinear creations. Joining the larger Valtech firm gives these employees a new career path, he says.

That team reacted well to news of the acquisition, he says; the Brazilian team gave a standing ovation at the announcement, and took to the beaches to celebrate.