Nathan McDonald, Co-Founder, We Are Social


The story of We Are Social is a demonstration of how start-ups can think globally even in a recession.

Nathan McDonald and Robin Grant founded the social media marketing company in the midst of the financial crisis of 2008. In spite of this, the company has grown to become a global specialist in social media management.

McDonald has said: “Having a global mindset from day one was crucial to driving our expansion. I’d advise all small businesses setting out to embrace it.”

The company opened offices in Milan and Paris within a couple of years of trading and now has bases in New York, San Francisco, London, Munich, Berlin, Singapore, Shanghai, Sydney and São Paulo.

It works with brands like Heinz, Mondelez, Heineken, Expedia, Beats By Dre, Jaguar and Lenovo on local, regional and global projects.

It specifically brands itself as a social media agency and caters to that niche. This allowed the firm to differentiate itself from its competitors and maintain focus whilst others were seeking to broaden their offering.

Chinese network BlueFocus acquired an 80 per cent stake in the agency in December. 

Over the coming years, the leadership team will be working hard to retain the company’s start-up culture and avoid replicating the approach of more traditional, larger agencies.

We Are Social launched when Facebook had a mere 100 million users and Twitter an estimated six million. These numbers rapidly exceeded 1billion and 200 million respectively, and the agency has ridden this wave. Through its Chinese buyer, the agency could benefit from insight into non-English social media such as Sina Weibo and WeChat, with a huge combined user base.

McDonald is originally from Sydney, Australia, where he began his career working in video, film and editorial. He moved to London in 2000, working in two of London's top digital agencies, Tribal DDB and MRM/McCann.