A global customer experience company has acquired St. Petersburg-based InsideOut, a sales play development and experimentation startup, in a $7.5 million deal.
Christina Cherry, CEO of InsideOut, returned a request for comment shortly before publication. She stressed how grateful and proud she is of her team for putting the company in the position it is in now. She also applauded their engagement with Boston-based Harte Hanks’ leadership: “The very mature way in which they conducted themselves in the last couple of days – when hearing this surprising news, is again, a credit to them.”
Cherry told the Catalyst that she will remain in a leadership role for at least two years, with the opportunity for renewal.
Officials with Harte Hanks and InsideOut announced the acquisition in a joint press release Thursday. The firm’s 136 local employees will join the Harte Hanks team and continue working from the 7,500-square-foot in downtown St. Petersburg’s First Central Tower.
On a social media post InsideOut administrators expressed delight for the transition. Additionally, it stated that blending the company’s proven processes with Harte Hank’s ability to drive omnichannel marketing leads would “deliver seamless, full cycle program execution for our partners.”
In the release, Cherry said the alignment of culture and values attracted company officials to Harte Hanks.
She praised “the like-minded commitment to our partners and a focus on our people, who we believe are the cornerstone for our success.”
Harte Hanks (NASDAQ: HHS) acquired InsideOut’s assets through a combination of cash and HHS common stock. Shares rose by about 7% following the announcement and currently trade at $11.02.
The St. Petersburg location becomes Harte Hanks’ seventh North American office. Brian Linscott, CEO, said that InsideOut’s capabilities uniquely position Harte Hanks to help clients drive growth by optimizing sales and generating marketing demand.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with this acquisition,” said Linscott in a statement. “And we are excited to welcome the talented InsideOut team to Harte Hanks.”
Cherry and serial entrepreneur Chad Nuss founded InsideOut in 2015. The former Silicon Valley executives experienced rapid success and grew the company from 10 employees to over 100 in the first three years.
AOL co-founder Steve Case visited the local office in 2019 as part of the “Rise of the Rest” seed fund and investing tour. In March 2020, just as the pandemic began sweeping the nation, InsideOut announced new partnerships with T-Mobile, Google, Facebook and IBM. As part of the expansion, company officials planned to hire 150 employees.
According to its website, the firm pivoted to a new long-term recurring revenue model in 2021. It states that earlier this year, InsideOut focused operations in new markets due to “political and economic challenges,” began providing consultancy services and added 31 team members.
“This transaction allows us to scale faster and support further growth for our partners,” said Cherry. “And to provide additional opportunities for our exceptional team of employees, given Harte Hanks’ broader scope of services.”
The 136 local employees now join over 2,500 spread throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. Founded in 1923 and headquartered in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, Harte Hanks operates in four business segments: customer care, logistics, fulfillment and marketing services.
The firm provides customer experience strategies, analytics and actionable insights to help clients attract and engage customers. Brands like Bank of America, GlaxoSmithKline and Unilever have sought Harte Hanks’ services.
“Harte Hanks’ proven ability to drive marketing leads with our cross-segment marketing services and customer care and InsideOut’s talent, processes and experience in delivering sales-qualified leads will drive higher value for our clients,” said Linscott.