Bain buys Australian AI consulting business of Max Kelsen

03 August 2023 3 min. read

Bain & Company has bought Australian AI and machine learning consulting start-up Max Kelsen, which includes roughly 40 local professionals. 

Global strategy and management consultancy Bain & Company has acquired the consulting and managed services business of Australian-based AI and machine learning specialist Max Kelsen, with co-founder and CEO Nicholas Therkelsen-Terry joining the firm’s Advanced Analytics Group (AAG) as an associate partner alongside Max Kelsen’s team of full-stack engineers.

The company’s separate products and research divisions were not part of the deal.

Bain buys Australian AI consulting business of Max Kelson

“We are delighted to welcome the Max Kelsen consulting team to Bain, and to bring their industry-leading machine learning expertise to bear to deliver even more powerful solutions to our clients,” said global AAG head Roy Singh. “We are seeing growing demand from clients for AI-related services and engineering capabilities that will enable them to be early movers in shaping how this generational shift in technology could transform their respective industries.”

Established in Brisbane in 2015 by Therkelsen-Terry and fellow University of Queensland graduate Ryan McStay (veering considerably from their respective law and psychology pursuits), Max Kelsen initially focused on machine learning in the healthcare and life science sectors, but has since grown its portfolio to include clients in the mining, financial services, retail and government sectors among others, served by a 40-strong team of professionals.

The desire to further expand its international reach motivated Max Kelsen’s sale to Bain; “We are excited to join at a time when businesses are starting to navigate the disruptions brought on by generative AI,” said Therkelsen-Terry. “In a rapidly evolving business climate, companies that understand how to use these tools to their advantage will come out on top. By joining Bain, we are thrilled to be working with an even larger pool of global clients.”

Therkelsen-Terry was a little more candid on LinkedIn: “Eight years ago, we decided to start a company to help businesses turn their data into new value. As two first-time founders, with no formal background in technology, this was a pretty big call. We made an early big bet on a ‘mysterious’ technology – machine learning and later deep learning. Fast forward to today and it's surreal to think how successfully we actually executed on that initial strategy.”

Bain said the acquisition would support the MBB’s global machine learning capabilities, in areas such as the build and deployment of ML solutions as to real-time prediction, forecasting, computer vision, industrial control optimisation, robotics and more, to better help its global clients “develop and operationalise AI and ML enabled use-cases.”

The acquisition follows a recent deal with ChatGPT creator OpenAI, signed in February.

“We are very excited about the quality of the Max Kelsen consulting team and the innovative work they have done for clients in Australia and globally. This acquisition will strengthen the suite of AI and ML capabilities we offer to our clients regionally and globally,” said Bain senior partner Richard Fleming – a recent guest speaker at the ADAPT Data Edge conference in Sydney – who leads Bain’s Advanced Analytics Group in the Asia Pacific.