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Why Accenture Bought a Digital Ad Agency

April 5, 2019, 2:33 PM UTC
043 FORTUNE Brainstorm Health 2019 April 3rd, 2019 San Diego, CA 4:15 PM BETTING ON THE NEW TECH The health care sector is ground zero for some of the biggest advances in tech today. Everything from blockchain to artificial intelligence and cloud computing has a place in the health care ecosystem. A conversation about where the smart money is and how investors should bet on the newest tech in the health care space. Cheri Mowrey, Managing Director, Healthcare Services Investment Banking, Morgan Stanley Dr. Beth Seidenberg, Founding Managing Director, Westlake Village BioPartners Amit Sinha, Managing Director, Global Head of Biotechnology Investment Banking, Goldman SachsModerator: Adam Lashinsky, Executive Editor, FORTUNE Photograph by Stuart Isett for Fortune
Stuart Isett for Fortune

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Never has the notion of swimming outside one’s lane been so exciting.

Accenture, the spawn of Arthur Andersen turned consultant turned marketing guru, is buying Droga5, a buzzy advertising agency. Odd fit? Maybe. But consultants increasingly have been veering into the business of marketing. Clients that need IT strategies need marketing strategies that happen to be IT strategies these days.

Incidentally, the seller of nearly half of Droga5 is Endeavor, formerly known as WME and before that William Morris Endeavor. The point is that Endeavor at its core is a master lane switcher, a TV talent agency that bought a sports agency (IMG) and a stake in an ad business, too. Endeavor is staked by private-equity firm Silver Lake and has been rumored to be plotting an IPO. It bought the Droga5 stake for a reported $115 million in 2013. Selling out now for far more than that—terms weren’t divulged, but Droga5 is said to cooking with gas—would help pay down Endeavor’s debt before an offering.

The biggest metamorphosis expert in the land, of course, is Amazon, the cloud software enterprise that also sells books and a few million other things. It was the elephant in the room all week at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego. Morgan Stanley investment banker Cheri Mowrey noted that Amazon (AMZN) has been out slyly sucking up information throughout the healthcare industry and already has shown a bit of its strategy with the purchase of online pharmacy PillPack. Haven, the secretive joint venture Amazon has formed with J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway, isn’t a for-profit company—and it is scaring the daylights out of healthcare services companies anyway.

On a final note, please check out this wonderful piece in the Financial Times by onetime journalist and current Suecophile Michael Moritz. It’s about a Swedish newspaper group that has thrived not by splashing into someone else’s lane, but by getting smart about its own digital business while prudently continuing to print newspapers.