February 12 2018

The Reference acquires New York-based digital agency Karbyn

New York, Ghent, 2/12/2018 - The Reference acquires New York-based digital-first agency Karbyn. This acquisition is the next logical step for the Belgian agency, after opening an office in Manhattan last year. Not only does this significantly increase its footprint in the North American market, it also gives clear evidence of its ambitions to further grow and be a true global digital partner. Both companies, together now 150 people strong, share technological solutions like the Sitecore© Experience Platform™ and a pragmatic and customer centric go to market approach.

Both agencies have an impressive record of accomplishment in diverse areas within digital transformation, such as strategy and branding, mobile and web development, marketing automation for SMB’s and Fortune 500 companies. The Karbyn experts now join forces with their The Reference counterparts in Ghent, Antwerp and New York. They all create digital value at the intersection of marketing and technology.


Olivier Deneef - Joe Donofrio - Anja Cappelle - Jim de la Bastide

Anja Cappelle, CEO of The Reference:

‘We are very enthusiastic to welcome our new friends at Karbyn. They add top-notch expertise in our digital transformation offering, and work for top clients such as ASCAP, Dealertrack and many more. Today 8% of our revenue comes out of the North American market and thanks to this merger this should increase to 24% in 2018.’

Olivier Deneef, CCO of The Reference US adds:

‘Together, we will serve our existing US clients even better. This merger gives us the benefit of scale, and makes us an even stronger contender in the US market. No doubt we’re in a very good position to add exciting new accounts.’

Jim de la Bastide (CEO) and Joe Donofrio (COO) of Karbyn:

‘The Reference is a top full-service digital agency that rapidly earned its stripes in the North American market. Karbyn’s solutions have always been innovative and future proof, and together we will be able to offer an even wider range of services to our customers, maintaining the same level of quality. We’re very excited about the future!’

Olivier Deneef will join the management team of the US entity as CCO, together with Jim de la Bastide (CEO) and Joe Donofrio (COO), who will report directly to Anja Cappelle (CEO).

As The Reference joined the Emakina Group in 2007, the leading independent European agency group takes full ownership of Karbyn through its subsidiary The Reference. This means the newborn US entity has access to the power of over 800 Emakina experts, while Emakina Group creates new support opportunities for its international clients.

This acquisition is subject to the approval of the Emakina Group board, with the final value of the transaction to be based on operational results recorded by Karbyn until 2022.

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