January 24, 2017

Kinetiq Digital of Beachwood merges with Robots and Pencils; Len Pagon named chairman

By: James Carey

Len Pagon is once again helping lead a fairly large digital technology firm.

A small digital marketing firm in Beachwood, Kinetiq Digital, merged with a much larger mobile app developer called Robots and Pencils earlier this month.

Pagon’s local investment firm, Next Sparc LLC, is now majority owner of the combined firm, which employs 130 people: 18 from Kinetiq and 112 from Robots and Pencils, which is based in Calgary, Canada.

The combined firm will adopt the Robots and Pencils name. It aims to be a particularly high-tech digital marketing and app development firm. The Canadian firm brings mobile app development and strategy expertise. Kinetiq, on the other hand, describes itself as “a mobile-first, data-driven digital agency,” according to its website.

Pagon, who is best known for founding another local digital marketing firm, Brulant, will serve as chairman of the combined company. The Canadian company’s CEO, Michael Sikorsky, and its president, Tracy Zimmerman, will continue on in those roles.

In a news release announcing the deal, Sikorsky noted that the merger will help “position Robots and Pencils as the innovator of choice when it comes to leveraging frontier technology.”

Pagon has made several local investments since Rosetta acquired Brulant in 2008, but as chairman of Kinetiq. In the process, he invested in a mobile gaming company that evolved to become Kinetiq Digital in 2014.

Nathan Carmon, who worked with Pagon at Brulant, is cofounder and CEO of Kinetiq. He’ll be transitioning into a new role where he’ll serve as operating executive on behalf of Next Sparc. Miles Molyneaux, who serves as chief financial officer at Kinetiq and Next Sparc, will be CFO of the combined company.

Next Sparc already owned a majority stake in Kinetiq. It acquired a stake in Robots and Pencils by purchasing the shares owned by cofounder Camille Sikorsky, Michael Sikorsky’s wife, Pagon said. She’ll be transitioning out of the CFO position.

Otherwise, the combined company plans to retain all employees from both businesses, Pagon said.

“We have many open positions we need to fill too to support our growth,” he wrote in an email to Crain’s.

In a wide-ranging interview published earlier this month, Pagon briefly alluded to this deal, without mentioning Robots and Pencils by name.