Thinkingbox continues to grow by acquiring Aarra

The digital and experiential studio's latest acquisition establishes a presence in New York and further develops its capabilities.

Aarra founder and CEO James O’Brien (left) with Thinkingbox CEO Amir Sahba.

Thinkingbox has been thinking a lot about mergers and acquisitions, just announcing the purchase of digital management agency, Aarra, and with more M&A activity coming down the pike in 2020, according to its CEO.

On the heels of its acquisition of Welikesmall (WLS) in December, Aarra will become the New York office of Thinkingbox, with founder and CEO James O’Brien becoming the company’s new CMO (O’Brien was also a minority owner at Welikesmall). O’Brien has been tasked with spearheading the expansion of ThinkingBox’s presence in New York, and will also lead the launch of the next Thinkingbox office in San Francisco.

Thinkingbox CEO Amir Sahba says his company has worked with Aarra for over two years, with some collaborative client overlap that includes McDonald’s, Pinterest and Facebook. Aarra’s portfolio also includes brands like Reebok, Starbucks and Verizon.

The acquisition further rounds out the capabilities at Thinkingbox as it sets itself on the path for expansion across North America. Thinkingbox operates mostly on the digital and experiential side, Sahba says, and while the WLS acquisition boosted its live action production and content capabilities, Aara is also heavily focused on digital and experiential as well. Aarra, however, has well-developed project management and client services teams, Sahba says, whereas Thinkingbox has been more focused on execution.

Sahba says the move fits within the larger goal of having a collective studio as an alternative to the holding company model for production-driven shops. The move is to create scale as the company grows, so it doesn’t have to seek venture capital or holding company assets. He says future M&A activities will further enhance its production capabilities.

With these two recent acquisitions, Thinkingbox says it has grown by 120% in year-to-year line revenue. The shop currently operates out of Vancouver, Toronto, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and New York.