Salesforce Ties The Knot With Buddy Media. What Now?
It’s official: Salesforce has agreed to acquire Buddy Media in a deal worth about $689 million, including $467 million in cash. Buddy Media is an A-list player in the social marketing space, with clients such as Ford, HP, L’Oreal and Mattel, and the company also boasts an especially close relationship with Facebook.
The announcement isn’t a surprise, but now we can move on to the really interesting question: What Salesforce will do with its latest social-marketing acquisition.
Yes, the purchase comes just after Oracle’s $300 million purchase of Virtue – probably Buddy Media’s biggest competitor in the social media marketing space. But Salesforce has been on a social trajectory for quite some time now; its other key offerings here include Chatter, a real-time collaboration tool, and the Radian6 social listening platform purchased last year.
The general idea, as Buddy Media founder Michael Lazerow put it in a blog post announcing the deal, is to roll up all of these pieces into a “comprehensive Marketing Cloud that will allow customers to listen, engage, gain insight, publish, advertise and measure social marketing programs.”
(Marketo might have a thing or two to say about using the term “marketing cloud,” but that’s neither here nor there.)
It makes sense to me, and it’s clear that Salesforce needed to move quickly given the consolidation taking place in the social-marketing space. If Salesforce really wants to build a platform that gives CMOs one-stop shopping for their technology needs – and that sure looks like the plan – then social marketing is a huge part of making that happen.
Yet there’s a challenge here, too: Salesforce has to pull off this transition without sacrificing its core business competencies. Not everyone is convinced Salesforce can pull this off.
On the other hand, I don’t think Salesforce could afford to sit still in spite of the risks. When you look at big CRM vendors like Oracle or marketing automation companies like Eloqua and Marketo, it’s clear that they’re moving into this turf as fast as they can – and Oracle in particular would love to marginalize Salesforce.