Mergers and Acquisitions

Cox Automotive creates Mobility Solutions Group, acquires Clutch Technologies


Two major developments from Cox Automotive surfaced this morning — a new division and a new piece within its growing portfolio.

Cox Automotive said it is bringing together its investments and solutions supporting the future of mobility with the formation of a new business division: Mobility Solutions Group. For years, Cox Automotive highlighted that it has been investing in technology and services that position the organization to deliver advanced fleet management solutions and support evolving consumer mobility.

The new business division, which is focused in part on mobility-as-a-service, will house these solutions and investments, as well as newly-acquired Clutch Technologies, a technology platform powering subscription access for the automotive industry.

“Cox Automotive is continually evolving — delivering digital retailing solutions for the immediate term while developing and investing in solutions that will fuel new models for consumer mobility and enable fleet management solutions well into the future,” Cox Automotive president Sandy Schwartz said.

“The future of mobility as a service is a massive business opportunity, with some estimates at well in excess of $1 trillion by 2030. Our goal is to grow our presence in that part of the business and help all our partners and clients successfully navigate the many new opportunities,” Schwartz continued.

Cox Automotive maintained that it is bullish on the future of automotive subscriptions.

In 2014, the company created Flexdrive, a vehicle subscription technology and services company. A joint venture with Holman Enterprises since 2017, Flexdrive can enable dealers and fleet owners to offer on-demand vehicle subscriptions to consumers via mobile devices.

With Clutch, a consumer-focused subscription technology platform that is now part of the Cox Automotive family of brands, the company said its reach and expertise expands further. Clutch Technologies was invented and incubated as part of Cox Enterprises’ Innovation Fund. Cox Enterprises is the parent company of Cox Automotive. 

More details about new group

Cox Automotive said Mobility Solutions Group will be led by president Joe George, who previously served as the interim president of the Media Solutions Group, made up of brands Autotrader, and Kelley Blue Book.

David Liniado, vice president of new growth and development, Jenny Bedard, head of finance, and Vince Zappa, president of Clutch Technologies, will report to George and help build a team to further develop Cox Automotive’s mobility capabilities.

“Cox Automotive has played a large role in introducing vehicle subscriptions to the marketplace,” George said. “And, we’re already pros at reconditioning, managing vehicles as assets, perfecting the consumer experience and developing elegant software solutions to make complex operations more efficient and profitable.

“We’re looking forward to helping clients disrupt the traditional car buying and ownership models in ways that are advantageous for their businesses,” George added.

In addition to investing in automotive subscriptions businesses, Cox Automotive noted that it is delivering fleet services to car-sharing and ride-hailing companies such as BMW’s ReachNow, Getaround and Lyft.

Cox Automotive also has invested in new mobility and autonomous players including Ridecell, a ride-sharing and car-sharing technology platform, and Ouster, a maker of LIDAR sensors for autonomous vehicles.

Furthermore, Cox Automotive has invested in Getaround, a consumer car-sharing platform.

As consumers increasingly turn to shared fleets to meet their mobility needs, the company emphasized that it will be essential for fleet owners and operators to ensure the maximum in-use time for their vehicles. From servicing vehicles quickly to reducing cleaning time between riders or drivers, the processes will need to be executed efficiently.

“Today’s technology and processes don’t account for the shifting paradigm in consumer mobility, and Cox Automotive is uniquely positioned to deliver the physical and digital solutions to fill that gap,” the company said.

For example, Cox Automotive recapped that Manheim, with its 78 physical locations that span 6,500 acres across the U.S., has already invested $27 million in its reconditioning operation since 2015. The vehicle remarketing company reconditioned 2.9 million vehicles last year alone at Manheim facilities.

“One-stop recon capabilities benefit fleet owners who need vehicles quickly cleaned and maintained on a regular basis,” the company said.

Additionally, RMS Automotive has helped sell more than 1.4 million vehicles globally through digital private stores for OEMs, captives and other large vehicle portfolio owners.

In fleet management, Cox Automotive stressed that vehicle portfolio management is the disciplined approach to managing a portfolio throughout its lifecycle and is critical to profitability. As part of that, RMS Automotive can help fleet owners with remarketing and knowing exactly when to sell units and for what price in order to increase portfolio returns and residual values.

RMS Automotive’s AI-powered Optimization product suite can provide fleet owners the vehicle-specific insights that drive data-driven decisions and improve overall portfolio performance.

The company went on to mention clear signs of how the automotive industry is being transformed by technology can be seen in the 2018 Cox Automotive Evolution of Mobility study, which will be published later this month.

“Mobility services are beginning to be more widely embraced by consumers as an alternative to traditional vehicle ownership with ride-hailing usage nearly doubling and car sharing and vehicle subscription services gaining traction,” officials said.

Cox Automotive cited research that shows consumer attitudes about the necessity of vehicle ownership are gradually changing, with 39 percent of respondents saying access to mobility is necessary, but owning a vehicle is not, a 5-percent increase since 2015.

For urban consumers, 57 percent indicate access to mobility is more important than vehicle ownership, a 13 percent increase since 2015.

“This means increasingly more consumers are prioritizing technology solutions that provide easy mobility over traditional vehicle ownership,” Cox Automotive said.

“By bringing together its investments and technologies into a new business division, Cox Automotive can more quickly capitalize on the shift from vehicle ownership to usage,” the company went on to say.

What the Clutch acquisition means

The company recapped that subscription access is now available in 26 states across the U.S. through Clutch’s growing roster of partners including BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche as well as approximately 30 dealer groups. Clutch was one of the first to offer the ease and accessibility of vehicle subscriptions in 2014.

“Cox Automotive’s formation of the Mobility Solutions Group will accelerate our plans to activate subscription access across the entire automotive industry by integrating the Clutch technology platform into Cox Automotive’s core business,” Zappa said. “The combined power of our technologies will fuel great advancements for our clients and consumers alike.”

The Clutch platform can provide the intelligence, capabilities and tools required to deliver vehicle subscriptions, including:

• A white-label solution that extends the customer relationship outside of the showroom and into consumers’ driveways.

• Management of vehicles using Clutch’s patent-pending technology which uses artificial intelligence to assign the right vehicle to every subscriber while maintaining a low ratio of vehicles to paying subscribers, thus keeping costs in check.

• Powerful data on subscribers’ needs and behaviors. The Clutch platform learns, remembers and anticipates what is important to every subscriber in order to build deep, trusted relationships.

• Subscription workflow tools to facilitate easy operational integration and delivery.

Back in September, AuSM met with Zappa at Clutch headquarters, where he explained how the company provides the software that facilitates this alternative car ownership model, which allows drivers to “flip” into new cars based on their needs at the moment.

For instance, you need a sedan to drive to and from work during the week. But you need an SUV for that camping trip over the weekend.  That’s where companies like Clutch come into play.

“During the week, your demands on transportation change. And again at a macro level, it changes quite a bit,” Zappa said during that interview. “Why can’t the car adapt to that?”

Check out the full conversation from September in the podcast below.

Dealers Auto Auction Group acquires another Tennessee facility

FRANKLIN, Tenn. - 

Dealers Auto Auction Group continues to spread its reach throughout the Southeast.

The company announced that it has purchased Tri-Cities Auto Auction in Bluff City, Tenn. A news release indicated the auction will be renamed Dealers Auto Auction of East Tennessee. 

The facility operates with four lanes along with detail and mechanical departments and offers more than 250 units every Wednesday starting at 10 a.m. ET.

The company added that Gary Montgomery will continue as general manager.

“We are very excited with the acquisition of Tri-Cities Auto Auction into the DAAG family,” Dealers Auto Auction Group chief executive officer David Andrews said.

“We feel that this location is a good fit within the overall footprint of our auctions and will be able to offer our customers another outlet to buy and sell their vehicles,” Andrews continued.

With the purchase of this operation, Dealers Auto Auction Group now possesses seven locations. Dealers Auto Auction Group was started back in 2001 with its first auction in Horn Lake, Miss. The company portfolio now includes:

— Dealers Auto Auction of Jackson
— Dealers Auto Auction of Memphis
— Dealers Auto Auction of Murfreesboro
— Dealers Auto Auction of Chattanooga
— Dealers Auto Auction of Huntsville
— Dealers Auto Auction of Mobile
— Dealers Auto Auction East Tennessee

Scott Keener, director of operations for DAAG added, “DAAG has a business growth plan to expand our footprint over the next five years, and this acquisition is one of many more to come.”

For more information, visit .

Outside capital among 3 trends fueling store buy/sell activity

IRVINE, Calif. - 

Don’t be surprised if some of the stores along “car row” in your market undergo a major ownership change some time before the end of the year.

According to the latest Blue Sky Report released this week, Kerrigan Advisors is expecting 2018 to be an active year for dealership buy/sells with an increasing number of buyers and sellers coming to market with the volume of transactions increasing as the calendar turns.

The report identified three key trends shaping 2018 and into 2019, including:

— Private dealers partner with outside capital to finance growth plans

— Public dealership groups become increasingly acquisitive

— Buyers focus on current performance rather than pro forma when pricing blue sky

“Kerrigan Advisors sees movement toward increased consolidation in auto retail, as well as continued increase in capital investment from outside the industry. Buyers are excited by the long-term opportunity and healthy pace of the current market, and see it as a chance to increase investment,” said Erin Kerrigan, managing director of Kerrigan Advisors.

“At the same time, we expect this shift toward economies of scale, coupled by current high values, to entice smaller dealership groups to sell as part of their estate planning,” Kerrigan continued.

In the report — — Kerrigan Advisors went into more detail about why and how outside capital is working its way into the franchised dealer space. The firm believes that the trend began to surface noticeably when Warren Buffet and Berkshire Hathaway acquired the Van Tuyl Group in 2015.

Firm experts said, “a growing pool of professionally managed and invested capital is looking to follow Buffet’s lead and invest in auto retail. The Buffet acquisition not only served as an endorsement of auto retail, it also showed many that such an investment could be done.

“Previously, acquiring and investing in auto dealerships seemed nearly impossible for outside capital,” the firm continued in its report. “Auto retail had a perceived impenetrable barrier to entry. The challenge for most of these private investors is how to invest and with whom.

“Traditionally, auto dealers were disinterested in bringing on equity partners, believing a partnership would overly limit their control of their business. The negatives simply outweighed the positives,” the firm went on to say. “However, as growth through acquisition has increasingly become an imperative to future success, a rising number of dealers are seeking capital partners to fund their acquisition plans.”

With those trends forming a backdrop, Kerrigan Advisors highlighted that during the first quarter the auto dealership buy/sell market continued its high level of activity, fueled by a healthy economy and an increased pool of sellers reacting to auto retail’s future.

Fresh investment and capital from new players, including international buyers, kept the Q1 pace at a high level — though down from last year’s peak, according to The Blue Sky Report.

Kerrigan Advisors explained the continued steady pace of a 17 million SAAR, compounded by pressure on dealership profits and emerging changes to the dealership business model, have essentially defined the market into two camps, which include:

— Buyers who have outside capital or resources to embrace and drive change

— Sellers who are increasingly reliant on OEM incentives for profitability and are concerned about how coming changes will impact generational succession plans

Among the most noteworthy transactions underscoring this trend is AutoCanada’s acquisition of Kerrigan Advisors’ client Grossinger Automotive Group. Kerrigan pointed out the Grossinger transaction was the largest transaction ever made in auto retail by a non-U.S. company.

“As with 2017, we’re continuing to see the economic benefits of consolidation, and how that’s attracting new buyers to auto retail,” Erin Kerrigan said. “There is also a rising interest by many dealers in selling. In particular, smaller dealership groups, who are struggling to maximize profit through economies of scale, are concerned about the viability of their family business for future generations.

“These dealers would rather sell now when values are high then risk the unknown,” she added.

Kerrigan Advisors acknowledged this cautious approach to unknown factors also has changed the way buyers are approaching the market. While the past saw them base valuations on future potential earnings, today’s focus is on current performance.

“In the last decade, buyers mostly priced acquisitions based on expected pro forma earnings post-transaction,” said Ryan Kerrigan, managing director of Kerrigan Advisors. “With industry sales slowing, however, many are now unwilling to base their purchase price on what a dealership could do. They are focused on what the dealership is currently doing in terms of profit. That is what drives value today.”

Blue Sky Report data and analysis from the June quarterly report also included:

— Actual transactions declined quarter over quarter, but the number of franchises represented in each transaction increased by 45 percent. As a result, the total number of franchises sold in the quarter remained on pace with 2017.

— Multi-dealership transaction activity increased 27 percent in the first quarter of 2018, compared to 2017. Kerrigan Advisors expects the pace of multi- dealership transactions to remain high in 2018.

— Among franchises being acquired, domestic franchises (44 percent) maintained their leading position with the highest buy/sell market share, followed by import non-luxury franchises (40 percent) and import luxury franchises (16 percent).

— Import franchises had the highest turnover rate — a reflection of high buyer demand and low franchise supply. The supply/demand imbalance of many import franchises also results in higher blue sky values and multiples.

— U.S. public auto retailers’ U.S. acquisition spending increased 62 percent in the first quarter of 2018, compared to Q1 2017. At this spending level, public retailers are tracking toward over $1.5 billion of U.S. acquisition spending in 2018, a level that would exceed 2014’s peak level.

— Private buyers, however, continue to dominate buy/sell markets with almost 80 percent of franchises. Private buyers are accessing debt and equity capital to finance their growth and compete with the publics for sizable acquisitions.

The Blue Sky Report published by Kerrigan Advisors is a quarterly report on dealership M&A activity, as well as franchise values. It includes analysis of all transaction activity for the quarter, and lays out the high, average and low blue sky multiples for each franchise in the luxury and non-luxury segments.

Ken Garff, Rairdon acquire Ford, Honda dealerships out west


Ken Garff Automotive Group now owns Utah’s former Henry Day Ford dealership, and further west Rairdon Automotive Group recently acquired a Honda store in Marysville, Wash., from the O'Brien Auto Group.

Ken Garff Automotive announced Monday that the Day family is departing from the automotive business after 84- years.

“We wholeheartedly welcome the Henry Day dealership, its employees and customers into the Ken Garff family,” Garff Enterprises chief executive officer John Garff said in a news release. “We know each other well, and our businesses complement each other perfectly.”

According to Garff, there aren’t any arrangements to make staffing cuts at the newly acquired store. “We have no plans for a reduction in force,” he explained. “Instead, we see growth opportunities as we combine strengths and services of both companies to benefit our customers.”

In addition to changing the former Henry Day Ford dealership’s name to Ken Garff West Valley Ford, the store will supply costumers with increased vehicle options, as well as offer GarffCare and its AdvantageCare pre-paid vehicle maintenance package.

“We are excited to join teams and continue to bring excellent service to our customers,” said Ken Garff West Valley Ford general manager Winston Bennion. “The West Valley community is wonderful, and we will continue to deliver the excellent service they have received from Henry Day's team.

“Our teams are all still in place, so customers can continue receiving the superior service they've always expected,” said Bennion.

Meanwhile, the Washington State dealership that Rairdon Automotive purchased from O'Brien Auto at the end of May is the group’s 11th location.

Now named Rairdon's Honda of Marysville, the newly acquired store is also the group’s third Honda dealership, joining Rairdon Automotive’s Honda of Burien and Honda of Sumner.

“We founded our company 25 years ago in the Smokey Point/Marysville market,” said Greg Rairdon, founder and CEO of Rairdon Automotive Group. “It’s a great opportunity for us to add our third Honda dealership where we got our start.”

Haig Partners facilitates store acquisitions by Asbury and Jim Ellis


Vehicles aren’t the only industry merchandise that recently rolled over the curb in the Atlanta market.

Haig Partners represented Ken Page and Scott Smith, principals of Automotive Associates of Atlanta (AAA), in the sale of two of their six Atlanta dealerships to Asbury Automotive Group and Jim Ellis Automotive Group. 

Asbury has acquired Toyota of Union City, and Jim Ellis Automotive has acquired Cobb County Kia.

“We are excited to bring Toyota of Union City into our Nalley platform in metro Atlanta,” Asbury chief executive officer David Hult said. “We will be able to take advantage of Nalley’s strong market presence, its leadership and great people in the stores that really generate great returns.

And we have a high-performing store in Nalley Honda just across the street,” Hult added.

Smith explained why he made this move.

“We have been very proud to represent Kia and Toyota in the Kennesaw and Union City communities,” Smith said. “These transactions have allowed me to refinance and fund my acquisition of the remaining Atlanta locations from my long-time partner and good friend Kenny (Page).”

Page Automotive Group and Automotive Associates of Atlanta will maintain ownership of dealerships in Florida, Maryland and Georgia.

“Haig Partners was able show us the value of approaching multiple targeted buyers to generate the value required to make this dream come true,” Page said. “Haig Partners found us great partners that will provide our employees with new opportunities and will represent the local markets well.

“Both Scott and I believe the team at Haig Partners was highly instrumental in managing the negotiation process and bringing the transactions to a conclusion. I am very happy for Scott in his new endeavor and look back on our years as partners with great fondness.” 

Nate Klebacha and Kevin Nill of Haig Partners were the financial advisers to Page abd Smith.  Stephen Dietrich of Holland and Knight served as legal counsel for the Cobb County Kia transaction, and Robert Bass of Bass Sox Mercer served as legal counsel for the Toyota of Union City transaction.

“Scott and Kenny asked us to help simplify their Atlanta operations, and we presented them with multiple solutions. Ultimately their choice to sell the Toyota and Kia locations was based upon what was best for their employees and the markets they served.  We would like to congratulate Jim Ellis and Asbury for acquiring dealerships in the robust Atlanta market,” Klebacha said.

Nill added, “Unlike many situations where a buyer acquires all of the dealerships, this opportunity made more sense to identify and execute transactions with separate buyers.  While adding complexity, it generated the funds necessary for Scott to acquire the group’s Atlanta Nissan dealerships.”

The team at Haig Partners has been involved in the purchase or sale of 14 Atlanta area dealerships and more than 280 dealerships nationwide.

Asbury now has 81 stores representing 29 brands in nine states.

Jim Ellis Automotive Group is an Atlanta-based dealership group with 14 stores representing 13 different franchises.

Dealer Solutions North America expands from Canada into 6 states


One of Canada’s largest retail automotive M&A consulting firms is looking to gain more business in the United States, choosing a former Audi and Penske executive to lead a growing footprint into six states.

Dealer Solutions North America, specialists in advising on and providing strategies for buying and selling dealerships, has announced its expansion into the U.S.

Leading the offices in the U.S. will be auto industry veteran Russell Hill, who has more than 50 years of experience across multiple sectors of the business. In prior roles, Hill led sales and dealer operations for Audi of America, oversaw a network of dealers for Penske Automotive Group as vice president of northern California and returned to Detroit as vice president of operations for Penske.

Most recently, Hill has launched several successful auto-industry businesses and consultancies.

“We are exclusively dedicated to assisting dealers and investors interested in making the most out of today’s robust market, which is poised for a dramatic valuation shift,” said Hill, who will serve as chief operations officer for Dealer Solutions North America.

“Tax reforms, favorable banking and continued investment by both OEMs and high-tech firms are attracting a new level of domestic and international interest; we expect these factors will continue to fuel increased demand for dealerships among well-funded investors,” he went on to say.

The U.S. offices of Dealer Solutions are in metro Detroit, with consultant offices in Florida, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, Connecticut and Michigan.

Founded in 2012 by Farid Ahmad, a career automotive professional with extensive experience in retail, brand and real estate in Europe and North America, Dealer Solutions has advised on the successful closing of more than 150 dealerships amounting to more than $3 billion in value, with nearly 50 transactions pending. Within the past six years, the privately-held company, headquartered in Toronto, has become one of Canada’s largest retail automotive M&A consulting firms.

Dealer Solutions provides full-service, step-by-step guidance and support to acquiring or selling a dealership. The company boasts a proprietary appraisal system that can allow clients to understand the market value and potential for their dealership.

To date, Dealer Solutions has conducted nearly 500 dealership appraisals. And its extensive network of personal relationships can allow buyers and sellers to tap into a wide-ranging group of s across Canada and the U.S.

The company's expansion into the U.S. is the result of two years of exhaustive study, with the first new office opening in metro Detroit in late 2017, and dealership listings within the same period.

“Our Canadian-U.S. group is diversified and we are on course for continued growth, which combined with our proprietary process and ability to seamlessly bring buyers and sellers together, allows us to provide more value to clients in both countries,” said Ahmad, who serves as chief executive officer of Dealer Solutions North America.

“Our team of merger and acquisition experts collectively hold more than 30 decades of combined experience in the automotive industry, and we’re thrilled to be in the U.S. market,” Ahmad continued.

To learn more about Dealer Solutions, .


US auto group buys Sonic store in Houston; Canadian group closes on large deal


Along with Doggett Auto Group’s acquisition of Houston's large Lone Star Ford automotive dealership, the industry has also seen a sizable en bloc purchase of 10 Canadian stores north of the border this week.

Leslie Doggett Industries' affiliate the Doggett Auto Group has acquired Houston's Lone Star Ford store from Sonic Automotive. The heavy equipment dealership group announced Thursday that it purchased the Ford dealership for an undisclosed amount, effective on Tuesday.

At the end of July, Doggett confirmed it will move the store to a lot that is located adjacent to the groups’ John Deere Construction and Forestry headquarters.

“Doggett's outstanding reputation as the leader in customer service and support in the commercial 18-wheeler, industrial and construction equipment industries is going to translate to success in the Ford business,” auto group head Tony Gracely said in a news release. “Doggett has a long history of acquiring units of large public companies and dramatically improving and growing those businesses with their highly-professional and family-oriented approach.”

In addition to 17 John Deere construction and forestry equipment dealerships, Doggett operates four freightliner on-highway truck and vocational truck dealerships, four Link-Belt Cranes dealerships and seven Toyota industrial equipment dealerships across Houston.

The company said “Doggett has become the largest dealership group in North America for three separate first-tiers in the construction equipment and industrial industries.”

Meanwhile, over in Canada, Mierins Automotive Group has agreed to sell 10 of its dealerships and two collision centers to Alpha Auto Group, based in Toronto.

In addition to group co-presidents Lisa Mierins and Arnie Mierins, who will continue holding their roles for a transition period, Mierins Automotive Group also announced that each employee on board prior to the recent acquisition will be offered positions with Alpha Auto.

“Our employees are our family and our communities are our home,” Arnie Mierins and Lisa Mierins stated in the news release. “It means a lot to us to have found a buyer who shares our values and will continue the legacy that our father and our family established over sixty years ago.”

A total 550 employees have had the opportunity to able to retain any existing seniority levels and benefits, according to Mierins Automotive Group.

Alpha Auto Group’s 12 newly purchased facilities are located in cities: Ottawa, Kingston and Brockville.

The new set of stores represent Acura, BMW, Honda, Lexus, MINI, Subaru and Toyota brands.

Furthermore, “The name Mierins Automotive Group will continue to be the holding company brand of the acquired dealerships as well as potential future acquisitions,” the group explained a news release.

Investment group led by CFAA owner acquires ComplyNet


One auction owner is putting compliance where her checkbook resides.

According to a news release sent to AuSM on Tuesday, an investment group headed by Alexis Jacobs, owner of the Columbus Fair Auto Auction, has acquired ComplyNet, a 25-year-old compliance and risk management consultancy focused on dealers and auto auctions.

The auction community and dealer community alike have benefitted from ComplyNet’s laser focus on the exposures unique to the automotive industries.

“As a third party to the commercial consignor, the auction’s responsibilities are extensive and significant. Columbus Fair has utilized ComplyNet’s services for six years, allowing us to respond to consignors with confidence and to leverage our combined efforts with our garage carrier. When you become a preferred risk, the savings are considerable,” Jacobs said.

“We not only have the most comprehensive approach to risk mitigation, we have an attorney, Adam Crowell, serving as president of the company,” Jacobs continued.

Crowell offered his perspective on compliance, too.

“As regulators continue to expand their focus in the automobile industry — both wholesale and retail — efforts to maintain a compliant operation have become more complicated.  An outsourced compliance service is one of those solutions that makes more and more sense.  Relying solely on someone internally is not a consistent solution,” according to Crowell, who is the managing member of ComplyNet.

“I intend to continue to develop the technical assets while enhancing the library of automotive content,” he added.

ComplyNet performs on-site and online services for automotive customers in 34 states, enhancing compliance and reducing subscribers’ risk.

 “This is a banner day for ComplyNet,” said Phil Troy, the founder of the company, who will continue to serve as the advisory director. “My vision was to provide a risk management and compliance solution tailored not only to the industry, but to the management style of each business. 

“This new investment group brings deep roots in the automobile industry, great management disciplines, and the ability to invest in new solutions,” Troy went on to say.

CDK purchases Progressus Media to grow advertising business


CDK Global has acquired Progressus Media to grow the technology and capabilities of its CDK Advertising business.

The company recently announced that the transaction closed for an undisclosed amount earlier this month, and it has also appointed Jen Cole to head CDK Advertising as vice president and general manager.

“We are excited to bring the Progressus Media team into the CDK family,” Cole said in a news release. “Our data-driven solutions, which help to put the right targeted messages in front of consumers at the right time in their shopping journey, combined with Progressus’ advanced technical capabilities, mobile conversion focus and subject-matter expertise, uniquely position us to provide competitive solutions in this rapidly changing market.”

CDK said the addition of team members, technology and products from Progressus can help advance CDK’s growth in social media channels.

Throughout the next several weeks, the Progressus Media team will work on fully integrating into the CDK Advertising business, according to CDK.

The Progressus Media team will remain based at their current office located in downtown Chicago.

Marketing activation platform joins Partner Program

Meanwhile, in other recent CDK news, 1-2-1 Mobile announced Monday that it is the latest company to join the CDK Global Partner Program.

“We are thrilled to join the CDK Global Partner Program,” 1-2-1 Mobile chief executive officer Alon Omer said in a news release announcing the new partnership. “This partnership gives us the opportunity to bring the power of our innovative marketing activation platform to thousands of automotive dealerships nationwide.

“1-2-1 Mobile has already partnered with top-tier automotive groups to transform their marketing campaigns into interactive, mobile-specific engagement tools that provide unprecedented marketing intelligence and ROI,” Omer continued.

1-2-1 Mobile uses engaged customer's mobile phone number to track their journey with an image-based mobile coupon, as well as provide dealers with marketing intelligence per customer.

Marketing intelligence that can be delivered by 1-2-1 Mobile includes information such as the marketing channel, specific promotion and customer's mobile phone number, as well as the location the coupon was redeemed.

Carvana acquires pioneer of 360-degree used-vehicle digital tours


Since Carvana retails used vehicles online, evidently the company wants to make sure its inventory is highlighted in one of the most state-of-the-art ways possible.

According to an announcement distributed on Tuesday, Carvana has acquired fellow technology innovator Car360, accelerating Carvana’s 360-degree photo technology capabilities with 3D computer vision and augmented reality (AR).

More than five years ago, Carvana insisted that Car360 pioneered the 360-degree used vehicle digital tour, showcasing each car’s features and imperfections in high resolution, all powered by proprietary technology and patented photo studios. Officials explained Car360 has taken the concept mobile, enabling app-based photo capture and even more immersive viewing capabilities.

“Carvana and Car360 both believe in the power of putting amazing technology in the hands of the customer so they can make one of the largest purchase decisions of their life with transparency and confidence,” said Ernie Garcia, founder and chief executive officer of Carvana.

“Bringing the Car360 team into the fold, we add even more entrepreneurial strength in computer vision, AR and app-based photo capture,” Garcia continued. “This technology unlocks a number of exciting capabilities that will further our mission to change the way people buy cars.”

An early iteration of Car360 launched in 2012 as a 360-degree panoramic video app called Cycloramic, and at one point became the No. 1 downloaded app on the Apple App Store with more than 20 million downloads.

In 2013, the wildly successful app caught the attention of Mark Cuban on Shark Tank, leading to an initial investment that eventually increased as part of a $3.55 million Series A financing round for Car360 in 2017.

“We have long admired Carvana’s pioneering 360 work, and couldn’t be more excited to team up,” said Bruno Francois, founder of Car360. “Focusing our technology and innovation within the disruptive force Carvana has established in the industry means we can realize the full potential of our technology more quickly, and at significant scale — we’re looking forward to seeing what’s possible, together.”

As one of the first commercially available uses of 3D computer vision, machine learning and AR technology for the automotive industry, Car360 joins Carvana at an exciting time of hyper-growth, when more and more consumers are ditching the dealership to buy online.

“The Car360 mission is to change the way companies capture and tell a car’s story, which aligns perfectly with Carvana’s mission to change the way people buy cars,” said John Hanger, chief executive officer of Car360.

The full Car360 team will transition to Carvana, including Francois, Hanger and chief computer vision scientist Grant Schindler.