Waterland and Shape enter partnership and focus on international expansion

Waterland acquires a majority stake in Shape, Denmark’s largest independent developer of native apps for Apple and Google operating systems. The company employs more than 100 people, primarily designers and developers, and has offices in Copenhagen and Zurich, Switzerland. Among its clients are international heavyweights such as IKEA, Red Bull and Credit Suisse, as well as a range of Danish companies including Fitness World, Bang & Olufsen, OK a.m.b.a., Solar, Aller Media and Novo Nordisk.

The company was founded in 2010 by Christian Risom, Nicolas Linde, Ole Gammelgaard Poulsen and Philip Bruce. In 2020, the daily responsibility for Shape was transferred to Kristian Duvald Friis, Søren Ulrikkeholm, Allan Aurelius and Villads Riber Mink, while the founders form the company’s board of directors from their company, Upright Capital.

With Waterland’s entry, Shape will be a strong platform for further organic growth and expansion through acquisitions. While broader digital consultancies have undergone a major consolidation, it has been limited among companies specializing in digital products and app development. Shape and Waterland will now invest in this area.

“Upright Capital chose Waterland as a partner to create a global product agency powerhouse because their musketeer spirit and ability to make quick decisions give us a flexibility and strength like no other. Shape will form partnerships with the app specialists who have so far preferred to stand on their own, rather than accept offers of acquisitions and rollups from generalist agencies,” says Christian Risom, co-founder and chairman of Shape’s board.

Within mobile app development, average annual growth rates are expected to be in the range of 13-24%, making it a faster-growing market than general software development. The total European market for app development is estimated to be €40 billion, with an outsourcing share of 50%, making Shape’s addressable market €20 billion.

Shape is one of the country’s leading digital consulting firms in terms of both annual growth and earnings. The development reflects that the market increasingly demands Shape’s end-to-end solutions, enabling the company to take an idea from a napkin sketch to a market-leading app through all processes from design, development, and a full roadmap for future additions.

“Shape has created a strong platform and a well-run business by uncompromisingly focusing on competencies, quality, and customer satisfaction in a market with good development opportunities and growth prospects. We have great confidence that Shape’s management and employees, with the right investments, can make their mark globally and meet growth ambitions in the coming years, and we look forward to contributing to the positive development,” says Kaspar Kristiansen, Managing Partner for Waterland Nordics.

Shape has received more than 80 awards and recognitions in total, which corresponds to more than half of the developed apps having won awards and recognition. For two years in a row, the company has been among the top five agencies in Denmark, a feat achieved by only three agencies. Shape’s apps have an average user rating of 4.4 based on more than 300,000 reviews.

The change of ownership does not entail any changes in the daily management or organization, nor does it affect existing customer relationships. The parties have agreed not to disclose the purchase price.