Digital marketing agency Frwd has agreed to be acquired by one of the big three consulting firms, Bain & Co.
Founded in 2009 in the early days of online advertising by John Grudnowski, Minneapolis-based Frwd grew quickly and three years later Grudnowski had expanded his one-man company into 60 employees.
Grudnowski said he formed Frwd to help clients build the capabilities of internal teams and create a proprietary data asset that informs digital marketing and take more control of where marketing dollars are allocated.
“We are both results-focused,” Grudnowski said. “By giving visibility into what’s working allows for better investments, better teams and better outcomes.”
The deal was announced last week. Terms were not disclosed.
Frwd’s initial growth was too fast, too soon. By March 2015 Frwd employment was down to 35. Since 2015, employment has grown back to 45 employees and 2017’s annual revenue exceeded $6 million.
Teams from Frwd and Bain are already well acquainted. Grudnowski became an adviser to Bain in 2015 and over the last couple years Frwd teams have worked with some of Bain’s digital operations.
New York-based Bain is one of the big three consulting agencies along with McKinsey & Co. and the Boston Consulting Group. Privately held Bain employs 8,000 at 56 offices in 36 countries. Its 2017 revenue was approximately $3.4 billion.
Frwd will become part of Bain’s digital practice group, which includes a range of digital communication, marketing and supply chain services.
“We are building out a digital hub here in Minneapolis, largely due to the skill set in this town,” Grudnowski said. “I’m very excited that we are actually staying in Minneapolis and building that out here.” Bain will have digital hubs around the world but Grudnowski says Minneapolis will be one of the central hubs of the digital team.
Bain’s digital practice is headed by Elizabeth Spaulding, who is based in San Francisco.