Real Chemistry Cuts Roughly 50 Jobs Amid Restructuring

SAN FRANCISCO — Real Chemistry, which in 2021 marked its 20th consecutive year of double-digit growth, has cut roughly 50 jobs due to organizational restructuring, PRovoke Media has learned.

“As a high-growth company that has more than doubled in size in the past two years and nearly quadrupled in less than five years, Real Chemistry is constantly evolving. We have also integrated and consolidated a dozen acquisitions made over the past few years in our quest to anticipate and respond to client needs and stay ahead of where the industry is headed. As part of this ongoing evolution, we recently changed our organizational structure and consolidated or eliminated approximately 50 roles,” Real Chemistry said in a statement.

“Our new structure is designed to keep us closer to our clients, drive deeper integration across our multiple capabilities and offerings, simplify how we operate, give our best people more opportunities for growth and to ultimately make a more meaningful impact on our clients’ business and patient’s lives,” the statement said.

PRovoke Media understands the layoffs include senior leaders such as practice heads. Real Chemistry wouldn’t elaborate.

The staff reductions come roughly three months after Real Chemistry founder Jim Weiss, who spearheaded the firm’s growth into a $475 million operation, took on the new role of chairman. Shankar Narayanan has succeeded him as CEO.

In March 2021, then-W20 Group was rebranded as Real Chemistry in a move meant to reflect the healthcare firm’s expanded capabilities after rapid growth and numerous acquisitions.

Real Chemistry houses W2O, the healthcare marketing and comms firm Weiss founded 20 years ago, as well as the 12 companies he acquired with the goal of making the firm leader in data and analytics.

The acquisitions (10 of which have occurred since 2019) have made Real Chemistry a roughly 1,800-person company with offices around the world, and expertise in marketing, creative and communications with clinical trial, health economics and outcomes, and value, pricing and access advisory.

Real Chemistry’s most recent acquisitions occurred in January 2021 when the agency bought Swoop and IPM.ai, sister companies that use technology to identify, target and engage patient groups. Swoop and IPM.ai are housed under Real Chemistry’s health technology business, along with Symplur, the social media analytics company W2O acquired in April 2020.

Other acquisitions Real Chemistry has made since it sold a piece of the company to New Mountain Capital in 2019 include the October 2020 purchase of influencer and entertainment marketing agency Starpower as a means of accessing high-profile talent to help drive public health messages. Real Chemistry acquired Elysia Group, a health economic and outcomes research consulting firm, in September 2020 and Baltimore consultancy Discern Health two months before that. In January 2020, the independent agency group added an advertising agency to its portfolio with its acquisition of 21Grams.

Real Chemistry’s success earned it the number three spot on PRovoke Media’s 2020 Agency of the Decade list. The firm was cited not only for its numbers (W2O Group finished the decade as a $220 million business) but also for leading the industry in making analytics a core part of its business.

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