Dezeen Magazine

Yves Behar's fuseproject aquired by BlueFocus Communication Group

BlueFocus Communication Group to acquire Yves Béhar's Fuseproject design studio

News: Chinese brand management conglomerate BlueFocus Communication Group is to acquire a majority stake in Fuseproject, the San Francisco industrial design studio headed by Yves Béhar.

The listed Chinese company, which has a market capitalisation of $3.7 billion, will acquire 75 per cent of the design firm for an undisclosed sum.

"We are currently closing a deal on a partial acquisition by BlueFocus Communication Group, an innovative media conglomerate that recognises how important good design is to storytelling," Yves Béhar told Dezeen.

"The deal is better than I could have imagined, as we still have the freedom to run Fuse the way it should be run, with the means to grow on a global scale."

Béhar, who founded Fuseproject in 1999, added that the deal would not affect the day-to-day operations of the studio. He will remain CEO of the firm, which employs 75 people in San Francisco and New York.

“We are excited about the partnership, which will help us, with our team of 75 employees, to continue to build a place where the best ideas can be turned into great design and successful companies," said Béhar in an official statement about the acquisition, which is subject to regulatory approval.

Béhar added: "It will be business as usual, as we keep serving our clients and partners as we always have, but on a bigger scale with the benefits of the partnership which our new shareholder brings.”

Fuseproject has worked on a diverse portfolio of projects, including an updated drinks carbonator for SodaStream, packing for sportswear brand Puma and office furniture for Herman Miller.

However it is the studio's work with Silicon Valley technology companies that sets it apart from other industrial design studios, with clients including JawbonePayPal and One Laptop Per Child.

BlueFocus Communication Group was established in 2008 and was listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in 2010. The firm's website describes it as "the market leader for brand management solutions in the Chinese market" and lists its services as "digital marketing, public relations, advertising, event management, and international businesses."

"Fuseproject is a great addition to our global family," said Oscar Zhao, founder, chairman and CEO of BlueFocus Communication Group. "It is our first acquisition in the US and its design, strategic and brand specialisation brings a new dimension to the range of services we can offer to our client base."

Zhao added: "We see Fuseproject as a pioneer in venture-backed design, creating a complete design, branding and consumer experience. It will boost the marketing communication capability of BlueFocus going forward for new companies and Fortune 500s alike.”

Fuseproject issued a statement titled "Why we're doing this" to explain the thinking behind the move, which is published below:

Why we're doing this

1) At fuseproject we’ve focused over the years on innovating our own business as much as that of our clients. For example, finding a way to avoid the typical “headcount trap” of agency growth took us from making small bets on royalties to a building portfolio of 20+ deep venture investments. Today our venture practice is the first, and most well developed in our industry.

This has provided a rich landscape of business challenges and rewards…completely unexpected and unprecedented in our field. 10 years later, I know this could never be replicated anywhere else.

For our clients, it means we’ve built the most skilled and nimble team out there, able to meet challenges of start-ups and large caps both. This gives clients the opportunity to gain value all across that spectrum.

The partnership with BF will be focused on supercharging this notion, and evolving it into the future. Fuseproject exists to do the new and different. This will not change…in fact, it will be even more possible with the strength and reach of BF as our partner.

2) This partnership is good for our team. We’re the only creative firm whose model combines high-design, venture business model, and full-service agency aspects. It’s a business and creative crucible, and the team is top notch. Partnering with BlueFocus allows us to build a stronger and more stable foundation for the future, and our team is at the center of that and this will allow us to compete on compensation at the very top of our industry.

3) The skills and services Fuseproject can field with BlueFocus, from design to communications to venture capital, make it a formidable asset for clients across markets and verticals.

4) BlueFocus will support the unique Fuseproject design venture model and help it grow globally, as well as to build new practices such as business design and a consulting business.

5) Fuseproject and Yves Behar are going to lead a diverse and eclectic network of agencies and services companies into a future where design and experience are at the center of both consumer expectations and new business opportunities.