Real Chemistry has been on a growth tear over the last two years, gobbling up smaller companies and adding hundreds of new hires. It also more than doubled its revenues, which are expected to approach the half-billion-dollar mark this year.
Formerly W20, the pharma and healthcare marketing communications agency underscored the transformation, accelerated by the pandemic’s impact on healthcare, with a new name and rebrand last March.
Jim Weiss, who’s helmed the company since launching it as a solo business 20 years ago, will hand over the reins on Jan. 3 to Shankar Narayanan, the former chief operating officer for payer analytics firm Equian, the company announced Thursday afternoon.
Weiss will move into the chairman’s seat and will also take a new position as executive advisor to New Mountain Capital, Real Chemistry’s private equity investor. In the advisory role, he’ll focus on identifying investment opportunities “where the life sciences and technology meet.”
With the 1,800-person agency at an “important inflection point,” Weiss said it was critical to bring on a CEO with the background to lead the company into the next growth phase.
Narayanan “brings the exact right expertise” as Real Chemistry expands its data and tech-driven marketing and communications capabilities and consolidates recent acquisitions, which range from a celebrity marketing shop to a social media analytics firm, Weiss said.
Narayanan integrated nine different companies at Equian while doubling revenues, Weiss noted, helping to position it for sale to pharmacy benefit manager Optum. At Cognizant, he grew the life sciences business from $800 million to $1.3 billion in revenue.