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Mergers & Acquisitions

Singapore venture studio Acumino acquires Melbourne startup Speakeasy 

- August 22, 2021 2 MIN READ
Sam Johnston
Acumino founder and CEO Sam Johnston
Acumino, a recently launched Singapore venture studio focused on emerging technologies and disruptive innovation, has acquired the intellectual property assets of Melbourne-based startup Speakeasy.

Speakeasy launched a social video streaming platform to deliver interactive live events to large-scale global audiences, launching in March last year just as the Covid pandemic hit. 

The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) venture creates a virtual suite of corporate boxes or VIP rooms for shared consumption of live entertainment. Speakeasy’s clients included BHP, KPMG, Philips, and CPA Australia. 

The acquisition cost was not disclosed.

Speakeasy CEO and co-founder John O’Sullivan said the developed the startup to tackle the Zoom fatigue people were experiencing early in the pandemic, and the deal with Acumino will aid the startup’s international ambitions.

Co-founder Kerry Tate said: “Speakeasy’s early success is a testament to the quality of Melbourne’s startup ecosystem, with the acquisition representing a prime example of a local business winning the eyes of investors on a global stage.”

Speakeasy’s other two co-founders are serial entrepreneur Jennifer Fein and software engineer Issac Trotts. 

The deal is structured as an asset acquisition, with Acumino purchasing all key assets of Speakeasy Technology Solutions with the co-founders retained as advisors.

The Speakeasy platform

O’Sullivan said the deal will see the four co-founders refocus on their pre-covid startups.

“The four of us started Speakeasy to solve two very particular problems — the challenge of vid tech for events, and the challenge of out own underemployment during the COVID crisis,” he said.

“Now that we’ve found a solution to both challenges, we’re diving back into our pre-Covid careers.”

O’Sullivan said he and Fein will focus on their respective businesses, Depot Adventures and YouLi, and US expansion plans.

“For Issac and Kerry, it’s going back into the startup space in their given fields – programming and business, respectively. Issac has taken a job at security startup Stairwell Inc, Kerry has taken work with SaaS startup CredShare,” he said.

Acumino’s Australian-born founder and CEO, Sam Johnston, said it was the company’s first foray into virtual communities and the metaverse.

“The deal further cements Singapore’s position as the Silicon Valley of Asia, and reflects the vibrancy of Australia’s own startup ecosystem,” he said.

“The software itself, developed by an ex-NASA/MIT engineer and fellow Google/YouTube alumni, will enable Acumino to securely deliver several video products at scale.”

Johnston, a computer scientist, headed to Singapore from Melbourne via the country’s new Tech.Pass visa to create the Acumino after building a global network of innovation centres researching areas such as drones, robotics, 3D printing, quantum computing, AI and IoT devices.