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AI-volution | The unfolding story

AI-volution | The unfolding story

Recent breakthroughs, such as the advent of Generative AI tools herald a new era set to rival the impact that personal computers, the internet, and smartphones had on our lives.

This wave of innovation has the potential to propel industries forward at a pace, promising to revolutionize the way businesses operate. Tasks, once mundane, are being automated, insights are generated with greater precision, and decision-making is reaching new heights of sophistication. At the same time, AI is opening up fresh avenues of growth, sparking product and service innovations, redefining value propositions and driving operational efficiencies.

One fundamental theme, something that has been consistent across all of our research, remains the importance of the human touch. As the story unfolds, AI’s true power lies in its ability to complement and enhance human capabilities, accelerating progress and efficiency, and delivering higher quality end products and experiences. Firms are actively harnessing AI and related capabilities fueling a surge in M&A activity, as they strive to gain an edge in an increasingly digital economy.

Our report is designed to identify key themes arising from AI developments and their subsequent impact on businesses and M&A
across the following sectors:

We look forward to continuing the conversation as the story unfolds. In the meantime, if you have any queries or would like to have an in depth discussion on this topic or the broader market contact us

Women in Finance Dinner

Women in Finance Dinner

We were thrilled to hold our Women in Finance dinner last week in London, hosted by Patricia Vicente, UK Director, and Kathleen Thomas, Managing Director in our New York office.  The event brought together an exceptional group of women from the M&A community, alongside senior executives in the digital media and content, marketing, B2B information and events and technology sectors. 

Return to Growth 

The prevailing sentiment among attendees was of cautious optimism for a return to growth in 2024, following a challenging year in 2023.  Encouraging signs, such as high levels of dry powder and approximately 50% of buyout portfolio companies held for over four years suggesting a need to deploy capital and hinted at increased activity in months ahead. 

This was also supported with the consensus that there would be a decline in interest rates in the UK by year end, although expectations tempered with the understanding that they were unlikely to revert to pre-2022 levels, bringing a level of continued pressure on valuations.  It was noted that premium assets were still trading at good multiples but there was hesitancy from sellers about not achieving expectations.  

The Impact of AI 

Discussions turned to AI and its transformative impact on various business models within the marketing services and media sectors, with the conclusion that the events and conference space would be less affected than advertising and marketing sectors.  It was remarked that investor discussions needed to incorporate clear strategies around embracing AI. 

As always, thank you to all of those who attended the Women in Finance dinner.  

If you are interested in attending one of our future events, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

MWC24 | Key Takeaways

MWC24 | Key Takeaways

Author: Patricia Vicente, Director

It was good to be back at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona last week, which once again confirmed its place as the preeminent place for innovation, showcasing the latest developments in mobile technology. Beyond merely presenting cutting-edge innovations, the event highlighted how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming the core fabric of mobile engineering today. From devices demonstrating seamless human-machine interaction to products highlighting intelligent automation, the conference illuminated AI’s pivotal role and how this technology is poised to transform future businesses.

Spending much of my time in the 4YFN (Four Years from Now) area, there was a consensus with Nigel Toon, bestselling author of ‘How AI thinks’, that we are still at the “Pac-Man” phase of AI, with much speculation about what the future will look like, how its adoption will play out in certain sectors, and of course the challenges it raises around privacy and copyright.

I was particularly interested in Sir Martin Sorrell’s session ‘The Interplay of Political Instability, AI, Marketing and Advertising’. He revealed that out of last year’s US$950Bn advertising spend, US$650Bn was allocated to digital media platforms, including Alphabet, Meta, Amazon, Alibaba, Tencent and the TikTok parent company, ByteDance. The irony was not lost on me that while experiencing an average revenue growth of 10-12%, they had concurrently reduced their marketing budgets significantly. The role of the middleman in marketing services was also questioned when innovations like Sora, powered by OpenAI, had the capacity to translate text directly into images.

­­Sorrell gave examples of the impact AI will have on the future of advertising such as its ability to scale creative assets by three to fourfold, and how it will expand the media and planning network exponentially – both resulting in hyper-personalization.  However, he continued to emphasize how human invention and creativity remain indispensable.

If you are interested in exploring key themes arising from AI developments in select sub-sectors, please visit our insights page.

For further information or to have a discussion about the market more broadly please contact us.

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day #inspireinclusion

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity and significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality.

International Women’s Day (IWD) provides a key opportunity for organizations worldwide to reinforce and amplify their ongoing commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion through actively forging women’s advancement. 

By championing inclusion, we at JEGI CLARITY harness the full potential of diverse perspectives.

International Women’s Day provides an important opportunity to fundraise for female-focused charities, help raise their visibility, and amplify awareness raising efforts. If you would like to find out more, please click here.

Transaction Update | 2023

Transaction Update
2023

Despite global dealmaking having seen a significant drop in 2023 amidst challenging market conditions, we continued to strengthen our position as the definitive independent M&A advisor in our sectors, with over 20 completed transactions in the last 12 months.

In the same period we saw an increase in the proportion of deals done with Corporate (20%) vs Private Equity (40%) and in particular PE-Backed Corporate (40%) saw a marked increase. This was largely driven by the challenging environment for PE investing last year with macro pressures as well as cost of debt all contributing.

Please contact us if you want to hear about any of these deals in greater detail.

JEGI CLARITY welcomes Richard Vaughan into the Partnership, EMEA

Welcoming Richard Vaughan into the Partnership, EMEA

London, UK, January 1, 2024 – We are delighted to announce that we are welcoming Richard Vaughan into the EMEA Partnership.  

During his 10 year tenure, Richard has been a central driving force in growing the business into the pre-eminent practice it is today serving Founders, Private Equity Investors and Corporate Institutions across the global Media, Marketing, Information and Technology industries. 

Richard has over 20 years of experience spanning both advisory roles and operational positions in our sectors having previously worked at ABN Amro, Citigroup, corporate finance firm Kinmont as well as Chorion and children’s IP owner Silvergate.  

Commenting on his new role, Richard said, “I am extremely excited to have been appointed as a Partner in the London office and to be part of the senior management team propelling JEGI CLARITY to the next level. Over the last decade we have earned a reputation as one of the key M&A advisors in our sectors, providing invaluable advice to investors and businesses seeking investment opportunities. Working with my colleagues, we will continue to nurture our industry relationships and offer our clients sound investment advice and transactional expertise within their sectors.  

I look forward to further growing these relationships with founders, private equity, and corporate clients and to supporting them with their transactions in the forthcoming years.” 

AI-volution | Software Development

AI-volution | The unfolding story Software Development

Authors: Jonathan Davis (Partner, EMEA), Kevin Moore (Managing Director, US), Daniel Hart (Vice President, EMEA)

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a transformative force, revolutionizing various industries. One of the most notable areas where AI is making a significant impact is software development. With the potential to enhance efficiency, elevate quality and drive innovation, AI is reshaping the way software is conceived, created, and deployed.

Key industry players are recognizing the immense potential of AI and are investing heavily to harness its capabilities.

The race to harness AI’s potential in software development is on and industry giants are leading the way. Accenture, a global consulting and professional services company, has unveiled plans to double its workforce of data and AI experts from 40,000 to 80,000. This expansion is backed by a $3 billion investment into its AI capabilities.

Infosys, a multinational corporation that provides IT services and consulting, has introduced Infosys Topaz, an AI-first suite of services, solutions, and platforms. By leveraging generative AI technologies, Topaz aims to transform the landscape of software development. Not to be left behind, Wipro has made a substantial $1 billion investment in digital transformation. Launching an AI-first innovation ecosystem, Wipro has set its sights on training 250,000 employees in AI.

These investments underscore the industry’s recognition of AI’s potential and the commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancement.

The gradual platformization of AI is very interesting to me. The efforts by Google, Amazon, Salesforce — they’re bringing AI down to a level of not needing to be an expert to use it. … I think the day that any good software engineer can program AI will be the day it really proliferates.”

Kai-Fu Lee, Sinovation Ventures

Automating tasks for enhanced productivity – AI is taking over the mundane and repetitive tasks that have long been a part of software development. The process of code generation, testing and deployment can now be automated, allowing developers to focus on more creative and strategic endeavors. Not only does this streamline the development process, but it also translates to reduced costs, improved software quality with fewer bugs and enhanced security. This will result in faster delivery times and more efficient allocation of resources.

Elevating software quality with AI – Buggy software can lead to disastrous outcomes, both in terms of user experience and reputation. AI has the capability to identify and rectify bugs, ensuring a higher quality end product. Moreover, AI can make recommendations for better coding practices, optimizing the software’s performance.

This not only reduces the risk of software failures but also enhances the user experience. The lowered barriers for new developers to enter the market will also benefit small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), expanding opportunities for growth and further democratizing the use of AI in software development.

Personalized user experience through AI – Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all software. AI empowers developers to personalize software for individual users. By analyzing vast data sets, including user preferences and behaviors, AI can recommend features, functionalities and even tailor the user interface. This results in an improved user experience and leveled playing field to deliver bespoke software solutions.

Predictive insights for informed development – AI’s predictive capabilities are invaluable for software developers. By analyzing trends and forecasting future developments, developers can incorporate AI assisted predictive logic into code to help make informed decisions and plan ahead. This not only enhances the return on investment but also mitigates the risk of obsolescence. Software projects can adapt and evolve in tandem with technological shifts, ensuring long-term relevance.

Multimodal methods: bridging the gap – The industry is witnessing a shift toward multimodal technologies that enable software development based on visual representations like drawings or wireframe blueprints, rather than solely relying on text and language-based interfaces. This innovation, with an increasing assist from AI tools, opens new doors for less technically skilled teams, fostering greater collaboration between various stages of development. The barriers between various development teams are being dismantled, leading to agile, streamlined processes from inception to the final product.

Amid the advancements of AI in software development, a central theme remains: AI is not here to replace human developers, but rather to augment their capabilities. Think of AI, like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Amazon Q or Github CoPilot, as a coding AI assistant. It aids in generating boilerplate code, offering new ideas and automating routine tasks.

It is essential to note that the human touch is indispensable in understanding how to leverage AI’s insights and adapt them creatively to specific projects. As well as monitor for errors and prevent rogue code from being released.

The relationship between AI and human developers ensures that technology serves as a tool for innovation rather than a substitute for human expertise.

As AI continues to evolve and redefine the landscape of software development, we stand at the brink of a new era. With investments pouring in from industry leaders like Accenture, Infosys, and Wipro, as well as every major enterprise software company, the potential for AI to revolutionize software development is unparalleled.

From automating tasks and elevating software quality to personalizing user experiences and enabling predictive insights, AI is ushering in a new wave of efficiency, creativity, and innovation. Developers are not being replaced by machines; rather, they are collaborating with AI to push the boundaries of what is possible. As we move forward, the harmony between human intellect and AI prowess promises to reshape the world of software as we know it.

We look forward to continuing the conversation as the AI-story unfolds. If you have any queries or would like to have an in depth discussion on this topic or the broader market please Contact us. Our next AI article delves into the world of Technology & Consulting Services.

AI-volution | Events & Conferences

AI-volution | The unfolding story Events & Conferences

Authors: San Datta (Partner, EMEA) & Kathleen Thomas (Managing Director, US)

The last year has seen the Events industry bounce back faster than anyone expected. The face-to face (F2F) industry, be it exhibitions, conferences, peer-to-peer or experiential has seen a surge in growth with events participants having a renewed appreciation of the value of F2F engagement in driving sales, networking, learning and collaboration.

While the fundamental allure of in-person interactions remains unchanged, the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is enabling a new era of enhanced experiences, efficient operations, and innovations within the industry.

The reasons that people attend events is unlikely to dramatically change due to AI advancements. AI technology is finding its stride in augmenting these connections, providing scope to deliver more innovative, cost effective, efficient, and tailored experiences.

AI-Powered Trends

Lead generation and qualification

A key part of AI’s potential impact on the events sector lies on its prowess in real-time crunching of huge amounts of data. The ability to aggregate and analyze diverse proprietary data sets (e.g. feedback, registrations, interactions, sales patterns) with third party unstructured data (e.g. social media activity and engagement) will allow rapid qualification, identification and prioritization of leads for exhibitors in advance and on the day to ultimately drive higher levels of engagement and conversion.  

Efficiencies through automation

The challenges of event planning – from registration and ticketing to speaker management and content production – are now prime candidates for AI-powered automation. Chatbots are emerging as versatile assistants, addressing attendee inquiries, processing payments, and distributing tickets. This automation will not only accelerate tasks but could free up event staff to focus on value-added endeavors. Eventex, for example, has already incorporated ChatGPT into its event management platform. Behind the scenes, event logistics are becoming more streamlined by AI tools that manage speaker availability, venue capacities and attendee preferences – helping organizers be more efficient.

Innovative and tailored event experiences

AI can also create new, innovative event experiences. While Generative AI based chatbots can drive efficiencies, they can also act as virtual concierges at events, providing attendees with instant and tailored guidance. Social media monitoring becomes a powerful tool to gauge attendee sentiment in real time, which could enable rapid interventions and elevate the overall event atmosphere. Facial recognition technology is being deployed to read attendee emotions, providing a new source of real-time data that paints a vivid picture of overall feeling, albeit at the risk of invading the privacy of attendees. All of these and more can potentially be combined with data based on footfall, visitor flow, content engagement, conference attendance and more. All of this data can then be used to optimize event dynamics on the fly.

Similarly, the advent of virtual and augmented reality offers novel opportunities for hybrid events that engage both on-site and remote participants. Through real-time translation of speeches and transcripts, audiences can be extended worldwide while on the ground, participants can be engaged more actively and creatively.

AI in set design testing becomes an agile playground for organizers, who can experiment with various layouts and ideas in a low-cost, nimble fashion. This innovation will help to precisely curate F2F experiences that cater to attendees’ needs and preferences.

Conclusion

Utilizing cutting-edge data analytics, seamless automation, and new innovations, AI is reshaping the landscape of events, transcending them beyond conventional gatherings. Participants can take part in captivating and tailored experiences, while event organizers have an opportunity to benefit from enhanced efficiencies and the invaluable insights that support an ongoing process of improvement.

Despite the continued integration of AI, the bedrock of success for any event remains rooted in authentic human connections, rendering the industry more robust against AI disruption.

As event organizers continue to amass operational efficiencies and AI technologies enhance the value proposition for attendees, the sector remains an attractive area to explore from an investment perspective.

We look forward to continuing the conversation as the AI-story unfolds. If you have any queries or would like to have an in depth discussion on this topic or the broader market please Contact us. Our next AI article delves into the world of Software Development.

Women in Finance Dinner

Women in Finance Dinner

Author: Patricia Vicente, Director

We were delighted to host the latest of our regular Women in Finance events, bringing together senior female stakeholders who work in finance and the M&A landscape. The event gathered a diverse mix of professional women who are integral to the world of M&A, including those from private equity, due diligence providers, law firms and corporate development teams.

The evening provided a valuable platform for influential women to connect beyond their transactional roles, which facilitates a working relationship and cements these connections.

During the dinner, the JEGI CLARITY team presented an M&A market update for Q3 2023 and a view of opportunities and wildcards for 2024. The discussions revolved around how key indices have shown moderate increases since Summer 2022, and how valuations of public companies in our key sectors have seen a slight uptick over the last 12 months. Also, we reflected on the fact that although the market’s sentiment is far more selective and measured than last year, it is very much open for business. We talked about how there is the opportunity for continued technological evolution of legacy assets in many businesses, ongoing growth in digital transformation services, as well as of course, the impact of Generative AI.

Thank you to all of those who attended and made the evening so enjoyable. We know how important it is to continue to develop networks and create opportunities for women in finance and ensure that we attract and promote the industry to those women who are considering it as a career of choice.

If you are interested in attending one of our future events, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

AI-volution | CGI, Animation & VFX

AI-volution | The unfolding story CGI, Animation & VFX

Authors:  Jonathan Davis (Partner, EMEA), Daniel Hart (Vice President, EMEA), Adam Gross (Managing Director, US)

The worlds of CGI, Animation and VFX are undergoing transformation, fueled by the proliferation of generative AI content creation tools. This wave of innovation promises to streamline workflows, unleash creativity and elevate audience engagement like never before.

In this article, we delve into the cutting-edge developments in AI, explore the potential challenges of copyright and fair compensation and discuss how innovation is reshaping the industry’s landscape.

The AI Revolution in CGI, Animation and VFX

Generative AI is taking center stage with a host of new tools, such as MidJourney, Runway.ai and WonderStudios. Alongside these, industry giants like NVIDIA are making groundbreaking strides with their Neuralangelo platform, which transforms 2D spaces into lifelike 3D environments. These developments are lowering the barriers of creativity, giving artists the power to swiftly ideate, develop and pitch concepts.

But the greatest impact could arise from automation. Once time-consuming manual tasks, like rotoscoping, are now being automated, cutting down laborious efforts from hours to minutes. Productions like “Everything Everywhere All at Once” are testament to this transformation, with VFX teams that once numbered in the hundreds now reduced to a core squad of 10 engineers.

Put to its best use, AI has the potential to become an essential collaborative creative partner helping to empower the next generation of VFX artists. Not only will it improve productivity, but it will also enable artists to explore new creative opportunities, re-imagine new creative visions and just as importantly preserve mental wellbeing.

David Patton, CEO of Jellyfish Pictures

Copyright Challenges and Fair Compensation

However, the rise of AI is not without its ethical and legal complexities. Generative AI technology often draws upon existing art, designs and content to create new outputs. This raises questions about copyright infringement and fair compensation for original creators. With outdated copyright laws ill-equipped to address these modern issues, the industry is calling out for reform.

In the US, writers staged a strike demanding higher pay and fairer contracts, particularly regarding the use of artificial intelligence in creative processes. Companies remain cautious about leveraging AI for client work, fearing high-profile copyright claims could significantly impact their reputations. This shift will particularly benefit those with vast databases of content, potentially creating a new hierarchy of content ownership.

One solution could be the implementation of smart contracts and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). These technologies have the potential to ensure fair compensation for creators by establishing transparent and immutable ownership records for AI-generated content.

Embracing Innovation

As AI continues to empower the industry, personalization emerges as a new frontier. The technology could, for example, be used to allow anyone to become the main protagonist in their favorite film or show, forging modern connections between audiences and content. Furthermore, leveraging Intellectual Property (IP) across multiple formats, from 2D to AR and VR, has become more feasible and cost-effective. This shift opens doors to interactive experiences, for example taking control of a VR spaceship, letting the audience play a pivotal part in a film.

The Human Touch

Despite the transformative potential of AI, it is crucial to remember that human intervention remains paramount in creating art with a soul. AI tools can revolutionize the production process, but they cannot yet replace the essence of human imagination and emotion. There will likely always be a need for artists and storytellers who breathe life into AI-generated concepts, bringing authenticity and depth to the finished product.

Profit Margins and Production Dynamics

The impact of AI on profit margins is a subject of both hope and concern. While automation could potentially lead to cost savings, questions arise about whether these benefits will be passed onto brands, content owners and studios. Will the increased efficiency of AI-driven workflows result in increased procurement pressure, more productions or simply lead to larger profit margins for production studios?

As AI democratizes certain aspects of the process, lowered barriers to entry may inadvertently lead to increased competition, subsequently impacting the pricing and value of Animation and VFX services.

Key themes related to AI in the market

Conclusion

The CGI, Animation and VFX industries stand at the precipice of an extraordinary era driven by generative AI, where human creativity and technological innovation converge in powerful harmony.

However, the industry must address the challenges of copyright and fair compensation to ensure that creators are duly rewarded for their contributions. With mindful regulation and the integration of human artistry, AI promises to elevate storytelling to new heights, redefine audience engagement and unlock an unprecedented realm of possibilities. As we navigate this new frontier, we look forward to the potential opportunities AI has to offer while valuing the human-led businesses that will take the industry to the next level.

M&A Role

Although fast-moving, AI-technology in Animation and VFX remains relatively nascent, and the sector has yet to witness a slew of AI-driven M&A deals. 

Indicators of a game-changing future are apparent with venture capital increasingly flowing into AI enterprises.  Notable among these are Move.ai, which is transforming movement in digital settings, Speech Graphics, with their speech-based facial animation software, and MARZ, introducing a ready-to-deploy AI solution for VFX.

These investments herald a promising era of AI-driven creativity and efficiencies in Animation and VFX.

We look forward to continuing the conversation as the AI-story unfolds. If you have any queries or would like to have an in depth discussion on this topic or the broader market please Contact us. Our next AI article delves into the world of Legal and Compliance Technology.