United Talent Agency has announced its acquisition of Digital Brand Architects, a social media marketing agency for digital artists and influencers.
DBA was founded in 2010 by Kendra Bracken-Ferguson and Karen Rabinowitz, according to the NY Times. In 2011 Raina Penchansky joined DBA from Coach as a partner, opening DBA’s LA office and is today listed as one of DBA’s co-founders and serves as CEO. DBA is =co-owned by Irving Azoff‘s firm the Azoff Company, which invested in the company in 2013 and later saw the exit of Bracken-Ferguson, who is now the chief digital officer at CAA Global Brand Management Group, which linked up with her firm The BrainTrust in 2018.
Today DBA has more than 50 employees and a roster of 140 influencers, including mommy blogger Naomi Davis with Love Taza, fashion writer and New York Times bestseller Aimee Song from Song of Style and Camila Coelho, whose Youtube channel MakeUpByCamila2 has more than 1 million followers.
The acquisition comes as UTA grows its presence in the digital entertainment space with a 100-person roster that includes Emma Chamberlain, Shane Dawson, Karina Garcia, Shay Mitchell, Rhett & Link and Wengie. Last year, the agency’s social media advisory practice was merged into UTA’s IQ research and strategy group and UTA’s incubator program has worked with early-stage media companies including AwesomenessTV and Raze. UTA’s Podcast division represents chart-topping podcasts including My Favorite Murder, Crimetown, How I Built This and Business Wars.
DBA represents some of the most-followed influencers, such as Rach Parcell, interior design expert Amber Lewis and food bloggers Skinnytaste‘s Gina Homolka, Gaby Dalkin from What’s Gaby Cooking and Genevieve Padalecki from Now & Gen. DBA also represents Korean-American fashion blogger Chriselle Lim, who has more than 1 million Instagram and partnered with J.O.A. for a new luxury clothing line with Nordstroms, as well as model and writer Shea Marie from Peace Love Shea who worked with DBA to launch her signature SAMESWIM swimwear line at Saks Fifth Avenue and other retailers.
DBA will operate independently from UTA and “maintain its distinct brand identity and existing business operations,” according to a release. Penchansky will continue to run DBA with execs Reesa Lake and Vanessa Flaherty and the company will continue to operate out of its offices in New York and L.A. As part of the acquistion, UTA will also own DBA’s interest in Digital Brand Products, “which builds and brokers new fashion, beauty and other licensed products around DBA’s clients,” according to a release, as well podcast producer and distribution arm Dear Media that launched 20 new influencer-driven podcasts since mid-2018.
“Raina and her team have built an extraordinary company, with an inspiring, client-first culture, that has allowed them to be true leaders in the influencer marketplace,” says Brent Weinstein, UTA partner and chief innovation officer, who will oversee DBA and its associated entities. Penchansky called the acquistion “an extraordinary opportunity to accelerate growth,” while Azoff noted that in the five years since he invested in DBA, “We have seen tremendous success as DBA became an industry leader in the space.” He added, “It’s great to put two friends together and we wish DBA continued success under the UTA banner.”