Christopher Rowlison / June 1, 2016


Connecting compelling campaigns and innovative technology solutions begins with understanding the customer. Sixteen years after Wire Stone’s inception, we’re still delivering on our original promise—to help companies reach the right customer with the right message at the right time.

I’m Christopher Rowlison, Wire Stone Chief Customer Officer, and I’m thrilled to announce our acquisition of New York City’s Tenthwave Digital, which we believe will expand that promise. I recently sat down with Tenthwave partners Drew Rayman, Steve Caputo, and Rob Kaplan, along with Wire Stone CEO Dan Lynch and COO Tony Schlangen, to talk about today’s business demands and what the acquisition means for both companies.

The right time, the right place, the right offering

Traditional business practices continue to be utterly disrupted by digital transformation. To stay in front of this constant change, Wire Stone began a hunt for the first of several acquisitions to add depth and dimension to our offering. We sought an agency that enhanced our approach to integrated marketing, and also complemented what is genuine and unique about our culture.

Unbeknownst to Wire Stone’s Lynch and Schlangen, on the other side of the country Tenthwave’s Caputo, Kaplan, and Rayman were pondering a similar exercise. Although Tenthwave had been successful in year-over-year growth, it had not been without trials and hard-learned lessons. Rather than struggle through additional growing pains, they opted to search for a partner that would elevate their game. Call it serendipity, kismet, or destiny—the timing was right.

“In our initial conversation with Tenthwave, we immediately had a sense of commonality,” said Wire Stone’s Lynch. “It was obvious in the language we used, our approach to business, and our struggles and successes. Even before we met, what grabbed our attention was their work—beautiful, meaningful work for world-class brands. What was particularly interesting was their promotions offering.”

“To be honest, I was actually more attracted to what we didn’t share,” said Tenthwave’s Rayman. “We were excited about growth, but couldn’t see a straight line to it. When we began talking, we weren’t shy about our need to better understand sales, marketing, and growth.”

“In our initial conversation with Tenthwave, we immediately had a sense of commonality.”


Disruption and the promise of digital transformation

With the speed at which the market is changing, businesses can’t wait for 12-month campaign cycles to see the results of their work. They can’t put everything on hold to re-optimize their marketing stack, because a year later it’s going to be irrelevant.

“If you’re a CMO or CEO, you know the technology behind everything is changing,” said Tenthwave’s Rayman. “The only constant is change and exponential complexity, so you need a partner who understands this. From a technology, creative, and experiential standpoint, Wire Stone is uniquely situated to capitalize on today’s vast marketing opportunities.”

Lynch agreed: “To help companies transform, you need a significant set of experiences and capabilities. If you look at any of our business-transformation projects, we’re testing, studying results, and optimizing based on how customers interact with our solutions. Speed and pace are an absolute differentiator in ensuring continued success.”

Better relationships build better solutions

In a time when longstanding business partnerships are the exception, both companies can point to enduring success stories—like Wire Stone’s 15-year relationships with Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft, and Tenthwave’s 12-year relationship with PayPal and eBay.

“Those types of connections are hard to find,” Schlangen said. “When we’re talking to potential customers and we mention the longevity of our relationships with Fortune 100 companies—it’s a conversation stopper.”

Tenthwave’s Kaplan expanded on how such long-term relationships are built: “We seek clients who are willing to share with us the challenges that keep them awake at night. The better we know their business, the better work we’re going to deliver.”

“Wire Stone is focused on results,” Lynch added, “which is why Tenthwave is such a great fit. Both companies care about delivering value for every dollar our clients spend. Both companies are focused on the bottom line.”

Without culture and talent, the rest doesn’t matter

Throughout a six-month courtship—plenty of time for a deal to fall apart—the partnership grew stronger due to the fact that both companies share an essential ethos: hire fun, talented, insightful people who love their craft and deliver brilliant work.

“When you’re hiring, obviously the right skill set is imperative,” said Schlangen. “But just as important is the soul of the people you hire, because if they’re not the right cultural fit, none of the rest works. We love Tenthwave because they act like ’Stoners, as we refer to ourselves internally. That’s the most exciting part—I don’t see any cultural difference between their business and ours. All of the Tenthwavers we’ve met have been warm, compassionate, and creative.”

“What we all agree is that growth means new clients, and our people love to work with new clients,” said Rayman. “They want to do the next great thing. As owners, you know how this can jazz an agency.”

“It’s simple,” concluded Schlangen. “If you take great care of your people, they will take great care of your customers. That’s what sets you up for success.”