Keywords skis into Canada with acquisition of Ottowa’s Snowed In

20 Jul 2018

Image: AS-kom/Shutterstock

Acquisitive Irish games company stays frosty and on the look-out for new firms to buy.

Dublin games services empire Keywords Studios has acquired Canadian engineering and co-development player Snowed In for €2.59m (CAD$4m), making it the latest prize in what has been a whirlwind of acquisitions over the last few years.

Founded in 2010 and based in Ottawa, Snowed In offers engineering and co-development services to the video games industry and has a strong global reputation and well-established relationships with clients such as Ubisoft and Bethesda.

‘Having grown the engineering service line from nothing in May 2017, we now employ over 300 software engineers in multiple regions’

The company has 29 employees all working in-house in its office in Ottawa led by the current owners, who will remain with Snowed In to drive its growth as part of Keywords Studios.

Snowed In has revenues of around €1.55m (CAD$2.4m) and EBIDTA (earnings before interest, depreciation, taxes and amortisation) of around CAD$0.8m.

Keywords Studios is paying an initial CAD$2.67m in cash and will issue 37,983 new ordinary shares to the original owners Jean-Sylvain Sormany, Tim Vito and Evan Hahn on the first anniversary of the deal.

An avalanche of acquisitions

In recent weeks we reported how Keywords Studios established its own venture capital fund, Keywords Ventures (KWV), and made its first investment of up to £300,000 in a Series A round in AppSecTest, a GDPR cloud company that tests mobile apps for GDPR compliance.

The bold move was the latest in a series of ambitious steps by the company that have included the recent acquisition of Hollywood games production company Blindlight for $10m and London’s Fire Without Smoke for £5.2m.

In 2017 alone, Keywords Studios made 11 acquisitions worldwide, including VMC last October for $66.4m, to gain leadership in functional testing, and Sperasoft in December for $27m.

Headed by CEO Andrew Day, Keywords Studios was established in Dublin in 1998 by Giorgio Guastalla and Teresa Luppino.

The company works on video game development for multibillion-dollar gaming giants such as Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard, Warner Bros, Riot Games, Sony, Supercell, Take-Two, Ubisoft and Nintendo.

The AIM stock exchange-listed company has more than 42 facilities in 20 countries worldwide.

“The addition of Snowed In to the group will add strength and scale to our recently established engineering service line and enable Snowed In to take advantage of the group’s very strong presence in the region to support its growth,” Day said.

“Having grown the engineering service line from nothing in May 2017, we now employ over 300 software engineers in multiple regions, and I’m delighted that Jean-Sylvain, Tim, Evan and their highly talented and creative team are joining the group as we continue to grow.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years