Vision Critical sells consulting unit to Maru Group

Division will continue to offer advice based on customer intelligence software

Canadian-based market research firm Vision Critical has announced the sale of its consulting division to Maru Group in order to fund the continued growth of its customer intelligence software.

More than 700 companies, including Adobe, DeWalt, NASCAR and Yahoo, use Vision Critical’s software Sparq, which gathers real-time information from customers through an online community-like advisory panel. Vision Critical has had a consulting division to help organizations with next-step decisions from the information gathered from Sparq, but now says it has found a strategic partner to take over.

“We think there is an enormous growth potential for this platform, but we can’t do it all by ourselves,” said Vision Critical CEO Scott Miller. “So we decided to sell this business to a company that shares our vision for the future potential of the ecosystem, then have a close working relationship moving forward … so that the two businesses are independent but collaborating to drive the value of our customers.”

Vision Critical’s search for a buyer began 18 months ago after the company realized the demand for both its software and consulting services was too high to properly grow. Miller said the company wanted a buyer that would also be a complementary partner.

The spinoff business will operate as Maru/VCR&C, and Vision Critical said the consulting division’s current leadership team and staff will make the transition, meaning no layoffs or changes for its client base. Miller says staff will even operate out of its  existing offices.

“We have been preparing for this execution for several months now,” he said.

Maru Group is a new global intelligence and professional services firm headed by Ged Parton (formally of Synovate) and backed by Primary Capital Partners LLP in the U.K. Maru Group just completed its first acquisition, eDigitalResearch, earlier this week.

Miller wouldn’t comment on the specific price of the sale. While Vision Critical and Maru Group have a value-added reseller agreement, Miller didn’t comment on a specific length of time other than assuring “the two businesses will stay highly collaborative for an extended period of time.”

Despite putting a wide closure window on the deal – sometime in the first quarter of 2016 – Miller said he expects it to finish soon after a few straightforward conditions are completed.

“We are being very cautious when we say in the first quarter,” he said, adding the closure is mainly “a logical set of steps” to ensure things remain business as usual for the two companies during the transition.

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