SAN FRANCISCO — W2O Group has reported $177m in revenue in 2018, a 23% year-over-year increase that furthers the growth the agency has experienced since expanding its capabilities with acquisitions in late 2016.

"It's working," said founder and CEO Jim Weiss, referring to the acquisition of three firms — Pure, Marketeching and Sentient — that helped expand W2O’s digital, analytics, martech and healthcare capabilities. "So the buy and build concept can work very, very well."

Weiss credited the year's growth to the addition of new clients, as well as the expansion of work W2O is doing for existing clients now that it has broadened its offerings. A more focused talent strategy, Weiss said, is also key to the agency's success, reflected in W2O adding a chief people officer in 2018.  "Nothing beats a great culture and great people to work with," he said.

In 2018, Weiss also made major leadership changes. In January of that year, then-COO and client services head Jenn Gottlieb was named the agency’s president, gaining oversight of the firm’s three largest operating companies, allowing Weiss to focus on W2O/Sentient and W2O/Marketeching, as well as EMEA operations and the company’s overarching global strategy. Roughly three months later, Hsiao Liu, who was an Ogilvy Health executive VP, joined as the agency's global head of its healthcare practice.

It also opened new offices in three cities — Washington, Atlanta and Zurich.

The year, however, also saw the departure of chief innovation officer Bob Pearson, who left in September to take an extended sabbatical. Pearson still works with W2O as a senior advisor.

2018 was the independent holding group's 17th consecutive year of double-digit growth. It also comes on the heels of 2017's revenues of $144m, which was an 18% lift from the year before. Hitting $123m in revenue in 2016 marked the first time W2O passed the $100m threshold, which occurred after selling a stake in the business to Mountaingate Capital and making the acquisitions.