Napkyn Analytics acquired by New York-based digital services firm

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A fast-growing Ottawa firm that helps clients use web analytics tools to boost their marketing efforts has been acquired by a global digital services provider.

Napkyn Analytics announced recently it was sold to New York-based Kepler Group in a deal that closed last month. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Founded in 2009, Napkyn has become a world leader in getting customers more bang for their marketing buck by helping set up and manage accounts on platforms such as Google Analytics and Salesforce that measure advertising performance.

The 25-employee firm, which has twice been named to OBJ’s list of fastest-growing companies, already boasts a client roster that includes major banks and Fortune 500 corporations. 

"There’s a tremendous amount of open fields and blue skies for people to do data work right now."

But founder Jim Cain says the bootstrapped enterprise realized about a year ago that it needed to tap into larger sources of capital if it wanted to remain at the cutting edge of the rapidly expanding digital marketing space.

“There’s a tremendous amount of open fields and blue skies for people to do data work right now,” said Cain, who previously served as Napkyn’s CEO and is now chief innovation officer.

“You literally can’t eat what you kill fast enough to take advantage of this amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It was either raise money or become part of something bigger.

"Raising money wasn’t hard, but trying to find a place where we could be part of something that’s more than the sum of its parts – especially in marketing, especially in digital right now – was the right direction. We just needed the right (company) to do it with.”

Napkyn and Kepler – whose customers include American Express and Hasbro – had been looking to partner on projects for several years, so an acquisition seemed like a natural fit, Cain added.

Deal 'a no-brainer'

“It was just a no-brainer,” he said.

Napkyn’s headquarters will remain in Ottawa. Nish Patel, who was previously the firm’s chief operating officer, has assumed the role of chief executive.

Napkyn is planning to expand its presence south of the border as it looks to become more of a “pure bespoke” consulting agency, Cain explained. He said the company wants to bolster its suite of products in a bid to offer more ready-made solutions to marketing departments.

While Napkyn’s headcount is slightly smaller now than it was a couple of years ago, the longtime entrepreneur called the pandemic a “kick-the-rust-off-the-bumpers moment” that helped transform the firm into a leaner, more efficient enterprise. 

Cain said the shift to remote work early in the COVID crisis forced Napkyn to rethink its operating procedures and prompted it to become more flexible in seeking new talent beyond Ottawa’s borders. 

Napkyn has added several new employees since the acquisition was finalized and plans to keep hiring more workers as it embarks on a “really aggressive” growth strategy in 2022, he said.

Kepler CEO Rick Greenberg said that despite now being in foreign hands, Napkyn will remain firmly rooted in the National Capital Region.

“From our standpoint, it’s going to be the next great Ottawa success story,” he said.