Sponge, the mobile marketing company, has been bought back by its two founders, just months after they sold it to a US company for $17.5m (£9m).
NeoMedia Technologies paid $6m (£6m) in cash and the rest in shares for the highly regard mobile specialist. Sponge co-founders Dan Parker and Alex Meisl will keep almost all of the $6m (£3m), while returning the shares.
Sponge has run mobile campaigns for the likes of Walkers Crisps and Coca-Cola (pictured). It also works with more than 40 advertising agencies and groups, including WPP Group and Bartle Bogle Hegarty.
In a statement Meisl and Parker said the buyback “occurred due to NeoMedia’s inability to fulfill its financial obligations under the terms of the original purchase agreement”.
The original deal meant that NeoMedia owed the Sponge founders a further $10m (£5m) due to a clause stating it had to compensate Meisl and Parker for any fall in the value of the NeoMedia shares they had been given.
While the shares are being returned to NeoMedia, Parker and Meisl are paying back just $250,000 (£130,800) in cash.
Meisl, chief executive of Sponge, says: “We are delighted to have had the chance to take back control of the company. Revenues are showing strong growth.”
NeoMedia says the sale of Sponge was part of a continued revision of its strategy. It now wants to concentrate on developing its Qode mobile marketing tool. NeoMedia will retain a 7.5% stake in Sponge.