Progress Partners

Investment Banking

Progress Partners is a boutique investment firm based in Boston and New York City providing financial advisory services to companies in media, marketing, advertising, and software.

A Banker's View: IBM Buys Red Hat

Partner and Senior Managing Director Chris Legg provides his perspectives on the sale of Red Hat to IBM for a blockbuster $34 billion transaction. Beyond the deal's obvious size importance, the transaction provides valuable insight on the current state of the technology M&A environment and serves as a case study on how bankers are generating value for clients. Read more here.

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Scouting Report: Mobile World Congress 2018

Last month, partner Sam Thompson attended Barcelona's Mobile World Congress where he met with dozens of key innovators and entrepreneurs in the digital advertising and tech space. Read his scouting report for more detail.

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Progress Perspective: Digital Automotive Industry

Partner and Senior Managing Director Chris Legg provides his perspectives on the digital automotive landscape after attending the NADA, J.D. Power Automotive Forum, and MediaPost's Marketing Automotive last month. The automotive landscape is changing drastically, with the increase in digital ad spend in the automotive space and dealers and OEMs alike focusing their efforts on taking a more digital approach. Read more here.

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Sam Thompson Featured in WSJ Article on "Ad-Tech Company Pledge Toward Ad-Quality Initiatives"

Senior managing director and partner Sam Thompson was quoted in a The Wall Street Journal article on OpenX's recent pledge to invest $25M in advertising quality initiatives. “It’s more than just the budget; it’s about how the company is changing their purpose and values as an operating company so everyone inside is operating toward the same goal,” Mr. Thompson said.

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Progress Perspective: Where do Video Supply-side Platforms go from here?

The digital video supply-side platform market has existed in a constant state of flux, expanding and contracting, over the last decade. Bombarded with infusions of venture capital, many companies that play in the ad tech space struggle to attain scale, causing investors to lose interest as they burn through their investments.

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Progress Perspective: What does the future hold in 2018?

Machine Intelligence, in the form of ML, Neural Networks, and self-adapting AI, will grow in importance and significance, impacting all industries in some ways that have yet to be determined. Is it ‘an interest’ or ‘a necessity’ for companies to replace loyal carbon elements with silicon and source code? It depends.

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Progress Scouting Report: NRF's Big Show 2018 and Retail's Revolution

Yes, physical retail is changing and is not growing as fast as e-commerce, but it is how brick-and-mortar stores approach these fluctuations in consumption pattern – and alter their business models to incorporate automation, personalization, and Artificial Intelligence into their strategies – that they will prevail.

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Progress Scouting Report: CES 2018

Boasting over 170,000 exhibitors and attendees, CES 2018 positioned the acceleration of technological innovation in B2C and B2B spaces front and center in Las Vegas. With the promise of Artificial Intelligence becoming ever more present and increasingly featured, we found heighted demand for tech companies to deliver ever more sophisticated and networked technology.

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Spotlight: Fox Forges Future

The much-discussed potential sale of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox assets – even if it never happens – shows the media industry is changing fast, says FTI Consulting’s senior advisor. Read the entire article by Progress Partners EIR, Mary Ann Halford.

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Progress Connect 2017 in "One Word" (Video)

The partners at Progress were asked what came to mind when thinking about Progress Connect, providing what they believed the best word was to describe this leadership summit. Part of a series of videos taken for Progress Connect. To find more, visit our YouTube channel.

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Progress Connect 2017 Recap Reel (Video)

On October 11th, Progress Connect welcomed over 300 participants, including 40+ founders, 50+ speakers, and 60+ CEOs, to Boston for a one-day summit about data, transparency, and the future of media. Check our our sizzle reel from the day of networking, discussions, and keynote speakers.

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Progress Connect 2017 "It's All Future" (Video)

What were some of the key undercurrents that ran throughout Progress Connect 2017? The answer happened to be more of a question: what comes next? Part of a series of videos taken for Progress Connect. To find more, visit our YouTube channel.

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A Banker's View: Hearst Buys Rodale

Chris Legg is a partner and Senior Managing Director at Progress Partners. Chris lives in Cambridge, MA, and is based in Boston.


Coming into the fourth quarter, we’ve seen some impactful transactions in traditional publishing and print magazines that are closing out the year. The Hearst-Rodale acquisition, feels both relevant and timely as it relates to the current and future state of our media industry.  

Hearst has agreed to acquire Rodale (family-owned publisher of Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Runner’s World) for a reported amount of $225 million, expecting to close early in the new year. With Meredith Corp. and America Media Inc. among the reported interested parties, we continue to see a momentum towards consolidation in the magazine and print industry – particularly as we develop new formats for the consumption of all forms of content. 

As the magazine industry experiences challenges in maintaining circulation and print advertising / newsstand revenue, consolidation of notable titles continues to be a trend – especially among mid-tier publishers. We’ve seen this through acquisitions like America Media Inc. acquiring US Weekly and Men’s Journal from Wenner Media, the same company looking to sell their majority stake in Rolling Stone.

Rodale’s decline in viewers, ads, and sales is reflected in the reported deal amount, approximately 1X gross revenue. Why is a smart move for both parties? This transaction will up Hearst’s position in the licensing industry (Hearst currently posts $350 million in licensed retail sales, Rodale $155 million) and provides a great home for Rodale. Given Rodale’s focus in the health and wellness publications category, their titles will open Hearst’s client base as they diversify into more demographics, attracting the Rodale client base while at the same time giving Hearst the tools to continue to nurture their strong existing partnerships with other behemoth networks. This strategically sets them up to perform well in the trend of consumption through multiple platforms with a wide array of quality content and expands their library.

Hearst continues the expansion of its global portfolio with Rodale’s established presence in the UK, Netherlands, and Japan, particularly in digital formats. Their existing partnership in these markets has yielded very positive results in response to content. Rodale has struggled in the past to balance its print and digital businesses, which Hearst will address with its proven reach and experience. 

As we see more acquisitions roll up and consolidate the traditional media space, the larger platforms have the tools to push the content and technology to react quickly to how the consumer digests content on their multiple devices. 

This is a smart move for both parties – we expect to see more consolidation as technology changes the distribution and only those who have access to these tools will survive.

To learn more or if you have questions, send an email to or

Progress Connect 2017 "Why this Event?" (Video)

On October 11, 2017, over 300+ C-level and senior leaders from some of the top Media and Internet technology companies in the industry gathered together for one day. Check out the introductory video from our event for a deeper understanding of our firm, partners, and summit.

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Progress Scouting Report: Dmexco 2017

Data is the world’s “new” hot commodity, and every year we meet companies in Cologne who are transforming both user experiences and marketing effectiveness by using this resource more effectively than ever before. Dmexco brings industry players and rising stars alike to the forefront – enabling innovators across the spectrum to put their progress on display for the rest of the market and give onlookers a glimpse of things to come.

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Progress Partners' IndustryMaps Highlighted in Digiday's "Oral History of the LUMAscape"

Progress Partners founder Nick MacShane and Davis Rosborough (VP, Progress Partners and Co-founder, IndustryMaps) made their way into the oral history of LUMA Partner's LUMAscapes. Through early work on industry and sector mapping, Davis' IndustryMaps have developed significantly and have come a long way, just as LUMAscapes have. Here is the story of how the Lumascape came to be, from some of those who helped popularize it.

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Davis Rosborough Featured in Digiday Article "Internet Mysteries: Why do ad tech companies rarely die?"

Although 5,000 ad tech companies exist today, the industry is full of dead men walking. Unlike other tech industries, struggling ad tech companies rarely die swiftly, even if they’re not on the path to growth. Davis Rosborough, VP at Progress Partners, provides his take on why some ad tech companies become "zombies."

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Axial's "Dealmaker Profile" Features Interview with Progress Partners Founder Nick MacShane

In Axial's series "Dealmaker Profiles," Progress Partners founder and senior managing director Nick MacShane was featured, discussing the challenges of founding a company, supercharging the firm's biz dev strategy, and what he likes to do in his spare time.

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Nick MacShane Featured in Digiday Article on Moat and "the Ad Tech Pivot"

"Fresh off an $850 million acquisition by Yahoo, Right Media CEO Michael Walrath and board members Noah and Jonah Goodhart thought their next big ad tech venture was a crowdsourced marketplace meant to connect ad creators with brands. Despite their respect in the ad industry and connections to the largest investors in Silicon Valley and some of media’s biggest, the group’s initial product floundered."

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Progress Connect Dinner Series: There’s Brand Safety In Numbers

The adtech industry has found itself confronted with a rapidly growing challenge affecting all parties, including the average American household. The importance of Brand Safety as a topic has transformed into a movement to address current issues like the lack of transparency in advertising inventory and the proliferation of fake news on the web.

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