ePrize acquires third company in past 18 months

By: Jeremy Selweski | Woodward Talk | Published January 30, 2013

PLEASANT RIDGE — ePrize continues to increase its footprint with the acquisition of a mobile engagement firm that will expand the company’s marketing capabilities into the realm of live events.

On Jan. 16, ePrize — a global online promotions firm based in Pleasant Ridge that specializes in mobile, social and Web campaigns — announced that it had acquired Mozes, a mobile company that engages audiences during concerts, sporting events, festivals and live television broadcasts through social- and location-based experiences. The deal marked the third acquisition for ePrize within the last 18 months, a sign of continued growth for the company.

“We’ve always been about connecting consumers with brands before they make a purchase,” said ePrize CEO Matt Wise. “But we still want to be able to interact with people in the physical world, not just the digital world, and we want to interact with them in meaningful ways. Mozes takes things to that next level by allowing consumers to make a real-world connection with these brands during live events.”

Wise used the example of a sporting event in a big arena to illustrate his point. At various points during the game, he said, there will be activities that pop up on the big screen allowing fans to make a brief connection to a particular sponsor. However, Mozes aims to forge a deeper connection to the sponsor by asking fans to interact with that same activity by using their mobile phone to send a text message, post on social media or visit a website.

“The consumers have to actively raise their hand and volunteer to connect with a brand,” Wise said. “That way, we’re not just taking their personal information through online tracking. But we have to give something of real value to them so that they want to come back and experience more. Mozes has a wonderful selection of tools to bridge that gap between the digital world and the physical world, which allows consumers to better connect with all their favorite brands.”

Mozes — a firm based in Palo Alto, Calif., that was founded in 2005 — has powered numerous well-known campaigns for clients such as Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Co., Live Nation, Rock the Vote, the American Idols Live! Tour, the Country Music Association Awards, and the Adweek and Ad:Tech conferences.

Dorrian Porter, CEO of Mozes, could not be reached for comment at press time. However, in a blog post dated Jan. 16, he stated that he was “excited” to announce that his company had been acquired by ePrize.

“Our platform and our team have participated in thousands of live events and will now have the opportunity to power even more by joining forces with ePrize and its customers,” Porter wrote. “We are very grateful to all the customers, partners and supporters who have allowed our team to work alongside some truly exceptional people, experiences and events. So many of you shared our excitement for our work, challenged our assumptions, drove us to new heights and shaped our success.”

Mozes was ranked No. 577 on the 2012 Inc. 5,000 list of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. Although it will now fall under the ePrize brand, ePrize will retain the firm’s employees and headquarters in Palo Alto, as well as its second location in Nashville, Tenn.

ePrize offers a technology platform that enables brands to engage with consumers through mobile devices and social media. Since 1999, the company has created more than 8,500 online promotions and loyalty campaigns in 44 countries for clients including Microsoft, Coca-Cola, The Gap, Yahoo!, MillerCoors and AT&T. ePrize administers four times more national campaigns than any other firm, about 80 percent of which now incorporate a mobile component.

The past 18 months have been filled with milestones for the company: In July 2011, ePrize acquired a division of Apollo Data Technologies, a predictive analytics firm, which was followed six months later by the acquisition of the mobile solutions company Cellit. Then, in August 2012, ePrize found itself on the other side of that equation when it was acquired by Catterton Partners, a leading consumer private- equity firm based in Connecticut. The company then announced in October that it had gained an equity stake in the new business LevelEleven.

As Wise put it, “Our gross trajectory looks robust right now. We’re still seeing good, strong growth that we expect to continue in 2013.”

Wise pointed out that ePrize currently has 410 or 415 direct employees, plus 60 or 70 contractor positions, and is looking to add 60 to 80 more in 2013. Most of those new hires will take place at the company’s Pleasant Ridge headquarters, while the remainder will occur at its satellite locations in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Seattle.

However, all this expansion has also created the need for more space, an issue that Wise said will need to be addressed before the end of the year. He noted that the company is continuing to explore its real estate options, which could include expanding its 46,000-square-foot Pleasant Ridge facility, adding a new satellite office or purchasing a larger building in downtown Detroit.

Whatever the case may be, Wise believes that by joining forces with firms like Apollo, Cellit and Mozes, his company is doing its best to stay ahead of the technological curve.

“This is a really exciting time for us,” he said. “I feel like we’re standing at the forefront of a new digital revolution. This is truly the next generation of marketing, and right now we’re just scratching the surface of it.”

For more information on ePrize, go to www.eprize.com.