Within our entrepreneurial ecosystems, a success story starts with intuition and a meeting of minds
Founded in 2014, Artefact is a data-driven services company, specializing in data consulting, data marketing and digital marketing. It was in 2017 that Artefact joined the Weinberg Capital Partners portfolio as a result of its merger with NetBooster, a digital marketing company in which Weinberg Capital Partners had invested a year earlier. The combined entity kept the name Artefact and, after a few turbulent months, began recording exceptional growth. In July 2021, Nobel thus teamed up with Artefact’s management to arrange the sale of a controlling stake in the company to Ardian Expansion by way of an auction process. After completing this transaction, Ardian Expansion went on to acquire full control by filing a simplified cash tender offer, followed by the delisting of Artefact. Today, the company enjoys an international presence with the aim of becoming a world leader in helping its business clients leverage the power of data and artificial intelligence, integrating them into their marketing strategies.
PHILIPPE DE VERDALLE François and I have known each other for about 20 years. So I quite naturally thought of him as a great choice to take the helm at NetBooster in 2017. I knew he would be the man of the moment to lead the company in a new direction. When he spoke to me about his idea of refocusing NetBooster around data and mentioned Artefact, the agency co-founded by Guillaume, I instantly had full confidence in his vision and judgment.
FRANÇOIS DE LA VILLARDIÈRE At that time, NetBooster’s key strength was its operational dimension, but we were lacking a fundamental element: data. Restructuring NetBooster was essential in my view. I discovered Artefact around then a bit by chance. Guillaume’s company had a model that precisely fit the bill for me.
GUILLAUME DE ROQUEMAUREL We were specialists in data consulting and analysis. Our company was seeing strong growth and we were looking to raise funds in order to expand internationally.
P.d.V. On paper it was an ideal marriage. The two structures complemented each other well, as the rest of the story shows, even if at the outset things weren’t all that clear, it must be said.
G.d.R. We might even say that it was pretty helter-skelter!
F.d.L.V. Without a doubt. I was at the helm of a listed company generating 80% of its revenue outside France thanks to its network, just what was needed to attract the little agency Artefact in its quest for international expansion.
G.d.R. But from our side, we also had in mind the risk of being swallowed up by a giant! Which wasn’t at all what we wanted, of course!
P.d.V. In the end, we came to a mutual understanding and the solution we found was the right one. The merger went forward and it was you, Guillaume, who took over the reins of the new listed entity taking the name Artefact. Setting out the idea, from the start of our negotiations, of switching the managerial positions, appointing François as Chairman and Guillaume as CEO, was a measure of the trust we had in Guillaume. Our aim was to build a genuine team.
G.d.R. At just 32, taking over the management of Artefact after the merger was quite a challenge for me.
F.d.L.V. Yes, it must be said that Guillaume was faced with the difficult task of restructuring the company, which was going through a turning point.
G.d.R. That’s right, we had to redefine our offerings, adjust our overhead costs to the structure’s new dimensions, close certain subsidiaries, etc. And all while integrating the model of the new entity created to track the growth in Artefact’s businesses. It was a juggling act to steer all these projects at the same time.
F.d.L.V. We all worked together to get through this period. We had absolute confidence in each other, and that’s still the case by the way! This meant that our exchanges were always constructive and went smoothly, thus avoiding unnecessary tensions.
P.d.V. And Guillaume stayed the course, always keeping a cool head, and his hard work paid off. From a stock market perspective, it was a very bumpy ride, as investors didn’t think our story had legs and then, eventually, as the company’s earnings grew, the share price began to climb!
G.d.R. Looking back, I can’t help but think that it was all incredible. We need to have the humility to realize that this story, like so many others in our entrepreneurial ecosystems, revolved around intuition and the will to build something together.
P.d.V. We all sincerely wanted the merger to be successful and that was the case up to the end of our part of the story, with the exit plan when we were able to offer a controlling stake to the future buyers. With the investment, we achieved a cash-on-cash multiple of 3.4 overall, between the purchase of NetBooster and the sale of Artefact.
F.d.L.V. It’s been a true success story, and a beautiful one at that.
P.d.V. A shining example that should go down in history!