For Jim McKelvey's startup, the acquisition of the local company comes as it plans to reach a major milestone later this month.

For Jim McKelvey's startup, the acquisition of the local company comes as it plans to reach a major milestone later this month.

Two St. Louis data startups are joining forces.

Invisibly, a technology firm founded and led by serial entrepreneur and payments company Block (NYSE: SQ) co-founder Jim McKelvey, said Wednesday it has acquired local data upstart Vrity. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Invisibly, which McKelvey unveiled in 2017, has focused its efforts on helping news publishers increase access to their content while also placing an emphasis on how consumers can be incentivized for the personal data they share online. It plans to release an app later this month that it says will allow individuals to use their personal data to gain free access to news content. Founders Fund, a prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm led by Peter Thiel, is an investor in Invisibly.

With its purchase of Vrity, Invisibly adds a local startup that has developed the Values Return Index, a data tool designed to give a brand insight into how its values for sustainability and equality impacts the bottom line. Co-founders Jesse Wolfersberger, former chief data officer at Martiz, and Chris Copeland, a former executive at advertising firm GroupM, launched Vrity in 2021.

“Invisibly’s integration of Vrity’s brand measurement algorithm will create a powerful way for brands to generate insights on consumer preferences, while keeping a people-first approach to the Invisibly data ecosystem,” McKelvey, Invisibly’s CEO, said in a statement.

With the acquisition, Wolfersberger has joined Invisibly as its head of data and Copeland has taken on the role of senior strategic adviser.

“The two most important trends in marketing today are consented data and purpose-driven brands,” said Wolfersberger. “That’s why Invisibly and Vrity are the perfect pairing to deliver actionable insights in a rapidly changing marketplace.”

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Invisibly said Wednesday its acquisition of Vrity follows a partnership it has recently inked with Sacramento-based newspaper publisher The McClatchy Co. that involves letting users of Invisibly’s app “to bypass local news paywalls in key markets in exchange for points earned with personal data.” McClatchy’s portfolio includes the Miami Herald, Fort-Worth Star-Telegram and Kansas City Star. Locally, McClatchy owns the Belleville News-Democrat. Invisibly said it expects its app will be available to download in late May.

 
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