SEVEN years after being part of the first intake of Renew Newcastle, start-up turned web wunderkid Conversant Media has been acquired for $11.6 million.
Founded by brothers Zac and Zoltan Zavos in 2005, Conversant has been snapped up by APN News and Media, which also upped its stake in Sydney advertising firm Adshel, paying $268.4 million to buy it outright.
“Nothing is changing for me or our business, we are full steam ahead,” said Zac Zavos, who will remain as chief executive office of Conversant, which runs websites The Roar, Lost At E Minor and Techly.
Mr Zavos was keen to give credit to the early support of Renew Newcastle, the not-for-profit group which places artists, creatives and community groups in city office space that is vacant, disused or awaiting redevelopment.
“I’ve always been a huge advocate of the benefit of Renew Newcastle ... it got me out of my sunroom at home and into a work environment, and it let me bring in people earlier into the business than I otherwise naturally would have,” he said.
“If you are in your sunroom you are more hesitant to say to someone, ‘why don’t you pop in and let’s talk and meet, or come in to work for a day’.
“That early opportunity to get working space was a great opportunity when it was just me and my brother, who is in New York.”
Conversant’s first employee was hired in Newcastle and though the then start-up had relocated from Sydney to the Hunter to benefit from a lower cost of living as a start-up, it returned to Surry Hills early last year for business reasons.
Renew Newcastle founder Marcus Westbury said the Conversant sale was a “stand-out example” of what could happen if a business got investment at the right time.
“Zac’s always been on a good trajectory, he’s very generous in giving us credit but we also benefited from having him,” he said.
“He always knew what he was doing but he was very supportive of other Renew projects and he was on the Renew Newcastle board for some time, which indicates that desire to give back.”