Vertigo Digital Displays Acquired By Smart Cities Firm CIVIQ

May 31, 2016 by Dave Haynes


Toronto-based outdoor display fabricator Vertigo Digital Displays has been acquired by CIVIQ Smartscapes, the relatively new company that is supplying “connected urban infrastructure technologies” in emerging “smart cities” like New York.

CIVIQ Smartscapes is the named owner, but the real owner is JMC Capital Partners, the private equity firm behind CIVIQ.

The deal means Ralph Idems and Chris Bolton, co-founders of Vertigo, are working again with Brad Gleeson, who is Chief Commercial Officer for CIVIQ. In a previous life, Gleeson was a hired gun executive for  for Chi Lin, the Chinese display manufacturers which for a period owned Vertigo, making him President and CEO, even though he was in Portland, OR and Vertigo was in Toronto.

Chi Lin got involved after Vertigo went into bankruptcy in 2009, at the height of the recession.

The Chi Lin relationship ended in 2012 and then Vertigo was, for a few years, tied to Corum Digital, the company that also bought the assets of the CMS companies MediaTile and  firmChannel. Corum owner Amedeo Tarzia had been Vertigo’s CEO the last few years.

The deal is clearly part of a roll-up strategy by CIVIQ and its private equity backers, given that CIVIQ is putting ruggedized, environmentally-protected displays on public streets, and that’s what Vertigo has been putting together for clients for years. CIVIQ is making those interactive stations now being bolted on to NYC and borough sidewalks.

CIVIQ was launched less than a year ago by Comark Corporation, and since then has also picked up through acquisition Elevate Digital, a company that was doing public information stations and has software that adds to the CIVIQ mix.

The press release says:

CIVIQ Smartscapes designs and delivers connected urban infrastructure technologies worldwide. The acquisition of Vertigo is aligned with CIVIQ Smartscapes’ strategy of expanding capabilities and to capture Smart City opportunities around the world.“The addition of Vertigo is a strong step forward for CIVIQ in expanding our technology and product portfolio,” says Erwin Rezelman, President, CIVIQ Smartscapes. “The Vertigo team has over a decade of experience in designing and delivering outdoor digital technology systems and will enhance CIVIQ’s core competencies in integrated Smart City solutions development and deployment.”

“This is a further advancement in CIVIQ’s strategy to provide a comprehensive portfolio of connected urban technology” saysMichael D’Amelio, Managing Partner of JMC Capital Partners. “Vertigo’s product breadth and design capability as well as their customer relationships are a great compliment to the CIVIQ business.”

Vertigo will keep its operations in Toronto, but be known as CIVIQ. I don’t know if this takes Vertigo out of other lines of business, such as the growing outdoor drive-thru display business. I chatted earlier in the year with Idems, who said that business was roughly doubling every quarter for them.

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