Skilled Creative Acquired by New Design Agency Journey
Branded voice app developer Skilled Creative has been acquired by new innovation and design agency Journey. Skilled Creative joined design agency ICRAVE and metaverse consultancy Futures Intelligence Group as the core of the new company, with private equity funding from Growth Catalyst Partners. The leaders of all three groups will take executive roles at Journey, led by former frog Design and Accenture Interactive head Andrew Zimmerman.
Journey’s constituent companies encompass a wide range of brand experiences. Skilled Creative’s voice AI experience joins ICRAVE’s hybrid physical and digital design work and the metaverse work of Futures Intelligence Group. The new company will have a running start as the founding firms have brought along several major brands that were already clients. Journey plans to combine the expertise of its mixed launch group to become “the agency of the futurescape,” meaning the creation of immersive experiences that leverage existing and speculative technology. Journey is named for Zimmerman’s 2020 “genre-bending, consciousness expanding” novel of the same name.
“Brands must embrace the rapid pace and diversity of technological innovation and understand what we call the customer journey’s futurescape,” Zimmerman said. “We support clients who are looking for a panoramic view beyond what we can see today, which spans across physical, voice, digital, and virtual touchpoints. The Futurescape is the “space” in which we imagine the next chapter in the customer journey and then build it.”
Skilled Creative Innovation
The assorted companies blended to form Journey go back as far as two decades in the case of ICRAVE, whose former CEO Lionel Ohayon is now the Journey’s chief creative officer. Meanwhile, Futures Intelligence Group existed for less than a year before its acquisition, headed by Cathy Hackl, a leading name in the metaverse and Web3 development. Hackl will now serve as Journey’s chief metaverse officer. ICRAVE. Skilled Creative’s five-year existence sits in between, with founder and CEO Brandon Kaplan now serving as chief innovation officer for Journey. Kaplan and his team have built an expansive portfolio of voice apps for clients that are now under Journey’s umbrella. The list includes a voice app for Reese Witherspoon’s book club, the Webby-winning HBO Max Recommends Alexa skill for deciding what to watch, and several mindfulness and health-focused voice apps for lifestyle brand Meredith.
“At Skilled Creative, we’ve been pushing the boundaries of how brands can leverage voice and conversational AI, creating new and innovative customer journeys,” Kaplan said. “As brands begin to traverse physical, digital, and virtual realities, conversational AI will be the leading user interface, and Journey will be leading that Voice UI charge.”