Ai-Media expanding with US acquisition, closes fundraising round

Ai-Media, a global provider of technology-enabled live and recorded captioning, transcription and translation services, has announced the acquisition of US captioning services company Alternative Communications Services (ACS) to accelerate its growth in the North American market.

The acquisition follows the recent completion of Ai-Media’s latest fundraising round, which attracted A$10.3 million (US$6.6 million) from new and existing investors, including CVC Emerging Companies Fund and US-based technology investor Anzu Partners.

Funds from the latest investment round, which take total capital raised by Ai-Media to more than A$20 million, will be used to help fund the ACS acquisition and accelerate Ai-Media’s international expansion through organic growth and other carefully selected strategic acquisitions.

In the past three years, the proportion of Ai-Media’s revenue generated outside of Australia has risen from approximately 5 per cent to more than 25 per cent, with the company confident this will pass 50 per cent by 2021-22.

Chicago-based ACS is one of the leading providers of voice-to-text captioning and sign language services in North America, with more than 800 customers, including Dow Jones, Verizon, the US Federal Reserve and the Detroit Lions football team. Co-founded in 2007 by Chief Executive Officer and owner Phil Hyssong, ACS has developed a reputation for high- quality service delivery.

Ai-Media Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Tony Abrahams said the acquisition of ACS would complement Ai-Media’s rapid organic sales growth in the North American market, delivering customers, proprietary technology, local knowledge and a committed, passionate workforce.

“In ACS, we have found a strong and growing business that shares our values of access, inclusion and delivering the highest quality service to customers. It is a beautiful cultural fit and we’re very excited that Phil Hyssong will lead the Ai-Media team in the United States,” Abrahams said.

Hyssong said the team at ACS was delighted to join Ai-Media. “Access to innovative products and technologies will allow us to deliver even greater levels of accessibility, service and support to all our customers,” he said.

Jonathan Pearce, a Director of CVC who has joined the Ai-Media board, said: “The team, culture and focus of ACS all align with the direction of Ai-Media. The US is a key region of focus and Ai-Media is growing rapidly from both a customer and an industry basis. ACS continues to support this strategic direction.”

Ai-Media Chair Deanne Weir said the company was delighted with the calibre of new and existing investors who backed the board’s vision to build a global leader in captioning, transcription and translation services.

“With the support of our investors, we will have the ability to maximise opportunities to expand in new regions and in fast-growing industry sectors, such as the provision of live captioning and translation services for corporate, government and education events,” Weir said.

“There are a number of tailwinds that support Ai-Media’s ambition to build a global business that delivers on our vision of making the world’s content accessible, one word at a time.

“These include the rise of remote learning and working, the growing popularity of video as a communications medium and the increasing number of jurisdictions around the world mandating captioning to ensure access for all.”

Ai-Media was advised on the ACS transaction by Atlas Technology Group.

Top Photo: Clockwise from top left: Deanne Weir, Phil Hyssong, Jonathan Pearce and Tony Abrahams

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