Bentonville firm Movista buys out biggest competitor, Natural Insight

by Paul Gatling (pgatling@nwabj.com) 1,028 views 

Bentonville-based technology firm Movista has completed a deal to buy out its largest competitor.

Movista announced Monday (Oct. 21) the acquisition of South 49 Solutions, a holding company founded by Stefan Midford and based in Sterling, Va. Its two primary assets are Natural Insight, a cloud-based retail workforce management platform, and Capango, a mobile-first platform that connects job seekers to opportunities without requiring resumes.

New York-based private equity firm Level Equity backed the deal. Level Equity also led Movista’s $12 million Series A venture capital round announced last year.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, although Movista CEO Stan Zylowski said it was an all-cash acquisition.

The deal is expected to greatly consolidate the marketplace by bringing together two of the largest domain leaders in retail execution technology. Movista, founded in 2010 by University of Arkansas graduates Zylowski and April Seggebruch, uses smart device applications for managing mobile workforces. Natural Insight launched in 2009.

“Today, in physical retail, it’s innovate or die,” Zylowski said. “This deal is significant because it creates more of the critical mass necessary for Movista to deliver brick-and-mortar stakeholders mind-blowing tools and amazing consumer experiences. Everyone wins and grows when the consumer is happy.”

Zylowski said discussions of a deal started shortly after last year’s Series A funding round was announced.

“When you compete against the same team repeatedly, you find out what they are made of and believe,” he said. “For many years we have known Movista and Natural Insight had a similar vision and commitment to customer success. We have complementary customer bases, serve varying geographies and have very different management strengths and experiences. Those differences drive the value in this transaction.

“Combined we have an amazing C-Suite, can create more, sell more and manage better than any of our competitors.”

Movista has appointed Midford its new chief customer officer.

“As we look to our next phase of growth, joining forces with Movista will ensure our customers around the world have the tools they need to stay ahead of a constantly evolving retail landscape,” he said. “I’m excited for what the future holds and tackling retail’s biggest challenges together.”

The single merged company will include about 100 employees across North America and Europe. U.S. locations will include Movista headquarters in Bentonville and satellite offices in Sterling, Va., Kansas City, Mo. and Grand Rapids, Mich. The company will have international offices in Toronto and London.

“International growth and capacity to serve are important parts of our strategy so having physical spaces abroad is critical,” Zylowski said.

Zylowski said the two companies have facilitated the successful completion of more than 63 million work assignments around the world by more than 100,000 workers combined.

Movista and Natural Insight will continue to support customers and maintain their respective platforms. Zylowski said Capango will also play a pivotal role as Movista seeks to address the rise of the “gig” economy and the need for on-demand labor.

“The market for on-demand labor is only going to expand,” Zylowski said. “We see the ability to link employers to job seekers as a natural extension of our offering.”

Zylowski said there may also be additional acquisitions in Movista’s future.

“Movista is going to have one million daily users in the next few years,” he said. “We intend to become the digital language of retail execution, cement ourselves internationally and be the brand trusted most by the world’s greatest retail companies.

“We have aggressive financial backing so if reaching those goals means acquisitions, they will come.”

Zylowski declined to provide revenue for either company.

“We tend to focus more on user and client counts. The combined entities have more than 100,000 daily users, 80 enterprise clients and a spectacular five-year [compound annual growth rate].”

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