News: Penta launches as world’s first comprehensive stakeholder solutions firm

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BALLAST Research, Hamilton Place Strategies, Flag Media Analytics, alva, and Gotham Research Group, along with newly acquired Decode_M, has officially rebranded and launched as Penta, a stakeholder solutions firm combining intelligence and strategy capabilities. Penta is backed by a majority investment by Falfurrias Capital Partners. 

The announcement follows a year of growth and collaboration as the firms bring together industry leading analytical and research capabilities with deep communications expertise. Drawing on these capabilities, Penta will work with clients to define, inform, and strengthen decision-making and understanding between business leaders and their stakeholders. 

Penta will be led by president Matt McDonald (pictured), previously a partner at Hamilton Place Strategies for over a decade. The company’s leadership will also include senior partners Tony Fratto, Alberto Lopez-Valenzuela, and Mike Berland, as well as Kevin Madden, who is returning to the firm after three years as executive vice president at Arnold Ventures. Mike Gottlieb will continue in his current role as president of Ballast Research within Penta. Beth Comstock and Alex Jutkowitz will serve as board advisors to the newly combined entity. 

“Leaders know the challenges they face in the increasingly complex stakeholder environment. It is time to meet the moment with a purpose built firm that offers comprehensive and actionable intelligence to inform stakeholder strategy and engagement,” said McDonald. “With our proprietary technology and deep experience across sectors and disciplines, Penta is uniquely positioned to serve this need.” 

“There is a growing recognition among the C-suite of the significant impact that stakeholders have on the business and its ability to create value, added Lopez-Valenzuela, senior partner, Penta – formerly founder and CEO of alva. “With this recognition comes a need for an integrated and connected approach to stakeholder solutions. By combining the most advanced intelligence tools with premium advisory capabilities, Penta will work with clients to help understand, predict and mitigate the impact of stakeholder issues, as well as enabling understanding between business leaders and their stakeholders.” 

“Penta’s integrated approach will help leaders understand what the reputational risks they face mean for their business, and how to engage with stakeholders to reach desired outcomes,” said board chair Alex Jutkowitz. “Looking ahead, we will continue to seek strategic opportunities that will enhance our offerings and insights.” 

As the newest addition, Decode_M brings innovative research methodologies and advanced analytics capabilities to the Penta team. Decode_M’s proprietary MFactor tool is the first of its kind to measure the cultural momentum of brands, products, people, and movements. Proven problem solvers and data-driven storytellers, the Decode_M team will be an essential part of helping clients understand “What’s Next?” to drive growth and identify risks and opportunities for their businesses. 

Penta comprises over 200 professionals in New York, London, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, working to bring data-driven, strategic solutions to more than 200 clients. With the support of Falfurrias Capital Partners, Penta will continue to make acquisitions that will expand the firm’s global reach. The integration of the firms into Penta will be complete by the end of year following the conclusion of Ballast Research’s current research cycle.