Dragons’ Den star Steven Bartlett has spoken out after the Social Chain business that he co-founded was sold in for £7.7m.

Bartlett founded the Manchester-based influencer marketing agency with business partner Dominic McGregor in 2014 and achieved a reach of more than two billion views per month.

In October 2019, Social Chain merged with Lumaland AG to form The Social Chain AG and list on XETRA and the Düsseldorf Stock Exchange.

Last week it was revealed that Now Brave Bison Group plc, a social and digital media company, had acquired the entire issued share capital of Social Chain Limited for an initial consideration of £7.7m and potential future payments of £9.5m.

These are to be paid over the coming three years and are dependent on stretch performance targets based on EBITDA.

Bartlett left Social Chain in 2020 and has gone on to author Happy Sexy Millionaire; host the hit podcast Diary of a CEO; and become the youngest investor of Dragons’ Den.

London plc swoops for Social Chain in £17m deal

The entrepreneur took to LinkedIn to put his side of the story forward after the news that Social Chain had been sold.

He wrote: “In 2014 I started a company called Social Chain. Shortly after I merged it with Wanja Soren Oberhof’s commerce company Lumaland with the mission of combining our marketing talent and their commerce talent.

“We called the new (listed) group The Social Chain AG and myself and Wanja became co-CEO’s of the group. All of my equity was in the publicly listed group. Over the next few years, me and Wanja raised capital and acquired agencies and commerce companies under the ‘Social Chain AG’ brand.

“At the time of my departure, Social Chain Group was generating in excess of $300m in revenues. It would go on to reach a valuation of $600m+ on the stock market.

“In 2019 I made a presentation to the board that I wanted to split the group in half – separating our marketing business (five-10 agencies) and our eCommerce business (20 companies) so they could go their own ways.

“The board took a different view, so I resigned and in my resignation I said my departure should now give the company one unified vision.

“A year or so after I departed, Social Chain Group decided to focus on e-com, and they’ve been acquiring eCommerce companies while selling off their marketing agencies around the world, ever since.

“Today (according to last week’s release) marketing accounts for just 10 per cent of their business. I imagine this number will be at 0 by the end of the year.

Social Chain co-founders Steve Bartlett and Dominic McGregor leave business

“Social Chain owned almost 10 agencies and they represented about $80m of our total revenue in the year I stepped down. From what I know, they’re nearly all sold.

“This week Social Chain Group sold the first and the original agency business that we had started in Manchester almost 10 years ago – Social Chain Agency, which I believe (from press releases) was generating £15m in sales in 2022, and was sold last week to Brave Bison – a very capable marketing company with two great founders.

“I’m exceptionally happy the brand is now in talented hands of people with marketing in their DNA.”

“The Social Chain ‘group’ was not sold last week and by all accounts is in a period of healthy transition under a new CEO, Georg. I have submitted a bid to buy one such agency from Social Chain Group’s portfolio.

“I wish Georg (Kofler), who is the new CEO of Social Chain Group the very best of luck – last week they announced their vision to focus on eCommerce – and not both marketing and commerce. This is the vision I believed in most, and it’s in their DNA! I’ll be following as a friend and a fan.”

Speaking last week, Brave Bison’s chair Oliver Green said: “We’ve long admired Social Chain, which we believe is among the world’s best regarded social media and influencer marketing brands, and we’re excited by the highly relevant clients it brings into our business.

“Social Chain has huge potential for growth within Brave Bison, taking the momentum Pete and the team have built up using Steven Bartlett’s platform. We’re delighted to be taking this big step forward as we continue to build a media, marketing and technology company for the new era.”