February 12, 2018

The Reference Acquires NY-Based Digital Agency Karbyn

Posted by Luc Malcorps

Congratulations to our colleagues of The Reference with the acquisition of New York-based digital-first agency Karbyn! And a warm welcome aboard to our new friends in the Big Apple!

Jim de la Bastide, Olivier Deneef, Anja Cappelle, and Joe Donofrio

This acquisition is the next logical step for The Reference, after opening an office in Manhattan last year. Not only does this significantly increase its footprint in the North American market, it also gives clear evidence of its ambitions to further grow and be a true global digital partner.

This means the newborn US entity has access
to the expertise of over 800 Emakina experts,
while Emakina Group creates new support opportunities
for its international clients.


Both companies, together now 150 people strong, share technological solutions like the Sitecore©  Experience PlatformTM and a pragmatic and customer centric go to market approach.

The Reference and Karbyn both have an impressive record of accomplishment in diverse areas within digital transformation, such as strategy and branding, mobile and web development, marketing automation for small and medium sized businesses as well as Fortune 500 companies. The Karbyn experts now join forces with their The Reference counterparts in Ghent, Antwerp and New York. They all create digital value at the intersection of marketing and technology.

Anja Cappelle, CEO of The Reference:
‘We are very enthusiastic to welcome our new friends at Karbyn. They add top-notch expertise in our digital transformation offering, and serves top clients such as ASCAP, Dealertrack and many more. Today 8% of our revenue comes out of the North American market and thanks to this merger this should increase to 24% in 2018.’

Olivier Deneef, CCO of The Reference US adds:
‘Together, we will serve our existing US clients even better. This merger gives us the benefit of scale, and makes us an even stronger contender in the US market. No doubt we’re in a very good position to add exciting new accounts.’

Jim de la Bastide (CEO) and Joe Donofrio (COO) of Karbyn:
‘The Reference is a top full-service digital agency that rapidly earned its stripes in the North American market. Karbyn’s solutions have always been innovative and future proof, and together we will be able to offer an even wider range of services to our customers, maintaining the same level of quality. We’re very excited about the future!’

Olivier Deneef will join the management team of the US entity as CCO, together with Jim de la Bastide (CEO) and Joe Donofrio (COO), who will report directly to Anja Cappelle (CEO).

The Reference management in NY:
Jim de la Bastide, Olivier Deneef, and Joe Donofrio

The Reference joined the Emakina Group in 2007. The independent European agency group now takes full ownership of Karbyn through its subsidiary The Reference.

The acquisition is subject to the approval of the Emakina Group board, with the final value of the transaction to be based on operational results recorded by Karbyn until 2022.

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