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Blackstone to invest in Santa Monica outsourcing firm

Blackstone to invest in Santa Monica outsourcing firm
Jaspar Weir, left, and Bryce Maddock, co-founders of TaskUs, at their Santa Monica headquarters on August 5, 2015. Below them is Maddock's dog Mr. Carter, a French bulldog. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Private equity funds managed by Blackstone Group have agreed to invest in Santa Monica-based TaskUs, a fast-growing firm that handles customer service, call-center operations and other functions for start-ups as well as established firms.

TaskUs is already a major player in the outsourcing business, with big-name digital brands including Tinder, MailChimp and MoviePass among its clients. Revenue is projected to reach $225 million to $250 million this year, from $117 million in 2017 and $80 million in 2016.

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But major deals announced by competitors this year meant that TaskUs needed a deep-pocket backer, and fast.

“This is an industry that is undergoing massive consolidation at the upper end of the market,” said Bryce Maddock, 32, TaskUs co-founder and chief executive. “We want to compete with the largest players on a global scale. In order to do that, we needed a backer who could help us get global fast.”

Blackstone Senior Managing Director Amit Dixit said in a statement, “TaskUs has established a leadership position in this domain with its base of marquee customers,” adding that it was partnering with the company to “build the world’s leading company in this area.”

The size of the Blackstone investment wasn’t disclosed. But a person familiar with the agreement said it as a $250-million equity investment. Blackstone said TaskUs is valued at $500 million before the proposed investment is accounted for.

Driving the move, in part, was the June announcement that French outsourcing firm Teleperformance would acquire business process outsourcing firm Intelenet from Blackstone for $1 billion. Also in June, Synnex Corp. said it would buy Convergys, another leading customer care firm, for $2.8 billion.

Just as people turn to smartphone apps to simplify their lives, firms use companies like TaskUs to provide the help they need to perform.

One example that Maddock has frequently used is what the company has done for West Hollywood dating app Tinder. "Part of the police force that is keeping users safe is us," Maddock said.

Maddock said the deal with Blackstone, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, would boost the company’s ability to invest in new technology and expand its business in Europe, India and Latin America.

Maddock and co-founder Jaspar Weir, who serves as company president, have come a long way since the pair met as students at Santa Monica High School. They had tried and failed to open a chain of frozen yogurt shops in Argentina before founding TaskUs in 2008, while they were both still living with their parents.

Since then, the TaskUs workforce has expanded significantly, growing to about 12,000 employees in the U.S., the Philippines, Mexico and Taiwan. In a boost to the Texas economy, TaskUs has added 2,000 workers mainly in San Antonio and New Braunfels, Maddock said.

“Two years ago, we didn’t have any employees in the U.S.,” Maddock said. “We are particularly proud of adding those jobs here.”

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