Australia’s Ai-Media Buys US-based ASL Interpreting Provider ACS

AI Media Acquires ACS American Sign Language Interpreter M&A

On May 11, 2020, Ai-Media announced that it had acquired US-based ASL interpreting and captioning company Alternative Communications Services (ACS). Ai-Media is an Australia-based CART (communication access real-time translation, a.k.a. real-time captioning) provider.

Ai-Media used funds from its latest investment round for the acquisition; a round that drew AUD 10.3m (USD 6.7m) from new and existing investors, such as UK-based private equity firm CVC Emerging Companies Fund and US-based tech investor Anzu Partners (not to be confused with Anzu Global).

This brings Ai-Media’s total capital raised to more than AUD20m, according to the same announcement. The company did not disclose the acquisition price.

ACS was founded by Chicago entrepreneur Phil Hyssong in 2007 and counts Dow Jones, Verizon, and the US Federal Reserve among its clients. In a Facebook post from the same day as the announcement, Hyssong wrote: “13 years ago I started a journey and it has taken me places […] I could have never dreamed. Today is the announcement of a new phase of life. I am now VP, US Operations for Ai-Media, the proud owners of ACS.”

Ai-Media, for its part, was founded in 2003 by CEO Tony Abrahams, who described the ACS acquisition as “a beautiful cultural fit.”

Ai-Media sales generated outside Australia rose from about 5% to over 25% in the last three years, the company statement said, and they are “confident this will pass 50% by 2021–22.” CEO Abrahams added that the ACS acquisition will “complement Ai-Media’s rapid organic sales growth in the North American market.”

Meanwhile, Ai-Media Chairperson, Deanne Weir, said the support of investors has given them impetus to “expand in new regions and in fast-growing industry sectors, such as the provision of live captioning and translation services for corporate, government and education events.”

Weir also noted that “there are a number of tailwinds that support [this] ambition — such as “the rise of remote learning and working, [as well as] the growing popularity of video as a communications medium.”

Ai-Media said on its website that the ACS deal allows both companies to expand their tech platforms and services, including Zoom captioning. The company also said, “The integration process for the acquisition will be gradual, allowing the companies to merge and grow at the same time. Both Ai-Media and ACS will retain their brands and build on them.”

In announcing its latest funding round and acquisition of ACS, Ai-Media also mentioned that CVC Director Jonathan Pearce had joined its board. Atlas Technology Group advised Ai-Media on the deal.