PlattForm widens scope with Zuma, VentureDirect

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PlattForm Holdings Inc., an Internet marketing and enrollment solutions provider to the post-secondary education industry, has acquired VentureDirect Worldwide Inc. and Zuma LLC, to bolster its emphasis on multichannel marketing. Platt-Form is slowly building a one-stop-shop for marketers.

The company also acquired PFP Advertising Inc. in August 2006.

VentureDirect is a marketing services firm that provides lead generation and customer acquisition services to advertisers along with list brokerage and management services for publishers and list buyers.

Zuma is the publisher of BeautySchoolsDirectory.com, a recruitment and enrollment lead generation company for the cosmetology school industry.

Acquiring VentureDirect and Zuma greatly expands the service capabilities available to PlattForm's clients. PlattForm currently services more than 3,400 schools and hopes that the acquisitions will solidify its leadership position in post-secondary education.

VentureDirect president Richard Baumer will continue to lead the New York office and its 120 employees. He will report to Michael Platt, CEO of PlattForm. VentureDirect will operate as an independent subsidiary of PlattForm.

"We have a 25-year history of brand equity," Baumer said. "We will be independent because we operate in a number of verticals that PlattForm does not operate in."

The acquisitions also enable PlattForm to expand its online lead generation services to new industry verticals, such as franchise, health and home improvement.

"We started working with PlattForm's call center, and I guess you can say one thing lead to another and we saw that together we can form a strong synergy," Baumer said. "The fact that together we can provide a full suite of services is what made the deal most attractive."

The combined entity further enables PlattForm to offer such enrollment services as online lead generation, search engine optimization, paid-inclusion placement, affiliate marketing, e-mail and postal list services, interactive lead management, Web site design and development, custom publishing, public relations, contact center solutions, creative services and traditional media placement.

The two acquisitions give PlattForm hundreds of lead generation Web sites. The acquisitions enable PlattForm to provide more than double the number of proprietary leads for customers of all three divisions.

In addition to the continued equity support provided by Arlington Capital Partners, debt financing for the transaction was arranged by LaSalle Bank, NA as lead agent with CIT Group Inc. acting as syndication agent.

VentureDirect was represented by The Jordan, Edmiston Group Inc., a New York City-based investment bank that specializes in the media and information industries.

Zuma was represented by DeSilva & Phillips, a New York-based investment bank specializing in the media and digital media industries.

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