LiquidHub, one of the Philadelphia area's information technology success stories in recent years, has been sold to a France-based consulting giant.
Capgemini, a $15.6 billion (yearly sales), Paris-based professional-services and consulting firm, says Monday it has purchased LiquidHub, the $250 million (yearly sales), "digital-customer engagement" IT and business-staffing and consulting firm based in Wayne. LiquidHub, which has around 2,800 employees, counts GlaxoSmithKline, Independence Blue Cross, Merck, Subaru, Vanguard, and other big employers as clients. LiquidHub competes with Accenture, Deloitte, Infosys, and other U.S.- and India-based firms for global IT clients,
Capgemini officials said they paid around "two times revenues," or about $500 million. In a statement, Capgemini said it bought LiquidHub to acquire its "seasoned design thinkers, user-experience designers, digital architects, and analytics specialists" who "will join Capgemini's digital teams to create, for its clients, [digital] experiences that help to attract, acquire and retain customers."
Pennsylvania taxpayers helped LiquidHub thrive in its early years: "In 2004, LiquidHub received $100,000 through (the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development's) Opportunity Grant Program and $100,000 for job training through the Customized Job Training Program," state spokesman Michael Gerber confirms. In 2010 — three years after CreditSuisse's $20 million investment — LiquidHub received another $100,000 state Opportunity Grant, plus $312,000 in Job Creation Tax Credits, to expand its Tredyffrin Township (Wayne) offices. LiquidHub created all the jobs it promised, and more, state auditors found.
LiquidHub owners who presumably will be enriched by the sale include founders Rob Kelley, Lee Yohannan, and CEO Jonathan Brassington, and investor ChrysCapital. The founders worked together at Philadelphia's former Broadreach Consulting before starting LiquidHub in 2000. ChrysCapital is, based in the Indian Ocean financial hub of Mauritius, invested $53 million in LiquidHub in 2015, and promised to back acquisitions worth $100 million. CreditSuisse had led investors in raising $20 million for the company back in 2007.
Armed with ChrysCapital cash, LiquidHub bought digital designers Foundry9 of New York and Harold Hambrose's ElectronicInk of Philadelphia, Salesforce.com client service firms HarvestSolutions of Boston and San Francisco and ClosedWon of Albequerque, N.M.; Redkite LLC; and Annik Technology Services of Gurgaon, India, a deal that boosted LiquidHub's headcount by 50 percent last winter.
., and Redkite LLC of New York, speeding the company's growth.
The Capgemini deal will help sell LiquidHub's consulting, design, and staffing services — targeting drug, financial, health insurance, and other industry solutions — to Capgemini customers, using the buyer's "global reach" to "augment and expand our offerings," Brassington said in a statement.
A native of Guyana, Brassington moved to Pennsylvania to study math and computer science at Misericordia University in Dallas, Pa., at the urging of his aunt, a Catholic nun. He later added a master's from the University of Pennsylvania engineering school, where he is a member of the board of overseers, and has taken an active role in educational and tech promotion groups in the region, said Penn Engineering dean Vijay Kumar.
Buyer Capgemini has offices in dozens of U.S. cities, including the Philadelphia suburb of Horsham. Capgemini has lately purchased a string of companies with North American operations that help build what it calls "compelling customer experiences" for corporate clients and their customers. Capgemini's prior acquisitions include design strategy and consulting firms Idean (2017) and Fahrenheit 212 (2016). Both of those companies now operate as part of Capgemini, and each has offices in New York, San Francisco, and other U.S. cities.
LiquidHub was "a natural fit," Paul Hermelin, Capgemini chairman and CEO, said in the company's statement. He praised LiquidHub's "customer-centric mind-set" — and its "impressive employee retention" in an industry where staff more often is highly mobile, reflecting what is often a project-oriented focus.