Salesforce’s $2.5B Acquisition of ExactTarget is a ‘Bold Move’

Inplace #2

ADOTAS — has acquired cloud-marketing platform ExactTarget for the tidy sum of $2.5 billion.

In a press release issued today, Salesforce said the acquisition “will further its mission of being the world’s leading CRM platform — one that enables companies to transform how they connect with their customers across sales, service, and marketing. By combining ExactTarget’s leading digital marketing capabilities with’s leading sales, service and social marketing solutions, will create a world-class marketing platform across email, social, mobile and the web.”

In announcing the move, Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff (pictured) touted the increasing role of the chief marketing officer in the digital space.

“The CMO is expected to spend more on technology than the CIO by 2017,” said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO,, in the press release. “The addition of ExactTarget makes Salesforce the starting place for every company and puts in the pole position to capture this opportunity.”

In a blog post today, Scott Dorsey, CEO, Co-Founder & Chairman of ExactTarget, trumpeted the “exciting news” of the acquisition.

“Since our founding, we’ve been laser focused on helping marketers leverage data to create more relevant and effective digital marketing, and today’s announcement creates even more opportunity to execute on that vision with our clients and partners around the world,” Dorsey wrote. “The combination of ExactTarget’s industry-leading marketing automation and campaign management capabilities with’s leading social marketing solutions — listening with Radian6, publishing with Buddy Media, and advertising with — will deliver the marketing platform of choice for CMOs.”

Reacting to the news, Lyris CMO Alex Lustberg equated today’s acquisition with other recent blockbuster deals.

“On the heels of Marketo’s recent IPO and Oracle’s purchase of Eloqua, Salesforce’s bold move into this space has been anticipated and signals a well-established trend toward further consolidation in the industry,” said Lustberg. “The move also highlights the growing influence of the CMO in the technology purchase decision making process. It will be interesting to track the changing relationship between the CMO and CIO as enterprises seek to harness the power of integrated solutions to derive actionable insights and deliver measurable business growth.  There is now a lot more pressure on the CMO to deliver bottom line results.”

Bizo CEO Russell M. Glass  (pictured) said the deal is a continuation of the battle he discussed in his recent article on AllThingsD.

“What’s really at stake with all the M&A activity you’re seeing is who owns the customer data, the CRM system and the relationship with the CMO,” said Glass. “Salesforce is in the driver’s seat to become the central repository of prospect and customer information, but Oracle, NetSuite, IBM, Google, SAP — and arguably even Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter — don’t want to see Salesforce have the lock on such valuable data.

“Oracle had kind of leapfrogged Salesforce’s lead in CMO-focused products with the Eloqua acquisition, but Salesforce’s acquisition of ExactTarget puts Salesforce squarely back in the lead because of the breadth of services that ExactTarget offers. While ExactTarget is still largely consumer focused and is a massive emailer at its core – which is not entirely consistent with Salesforce’s core clientele – Pardot will be a key strategic asset for Salesforce, as it’s more B2B and marketing automation focused.

“In terms of what’s coming next, SAP needs to make a move – I would think they might be looking at Merkle or Responsys. Marketo is also a possibility, but it’s not big enough to really move the needle. Look for Oracle to announce another acquisition soon too.”

Chris Golec, CEO for Demandbase, said the acquisition “fills two gaps in Salesforce’s product stack: an industrial strength email solution and marketing automation (from Exact Target’s purchase of Pardot). It is currently unclear what the impact will be on other leading marketing automation providers given most of their customer bases rely on The integration between marketing automation systems and CRM is critical for any online sales/marketing operation.”

Neolane President and CEO Stéphane Dehoche said the acquisition reaffirms Benioff’s earlier indications that Salesforce was moving into marketing technology.

“ is reinforcing the importance of business-to-business (b2b) marketing accountability by marrying their own strength in sales force automation with the email execution capabilities of ExactTarget,” said Dehoche. Neolane continues to see record growth driven by strong demand for our enterprise class cross-channel marketing platform.  We remain committed to supporting the CMO and the marketing organization as they wrestle with the complex challenges that empowered consumers pose.”

To coincide with today’s news, Neolane has also fashioned an infographic that shows all the acquisitions, IPOs, funding, etc. of the major marketing technology players. (Click repeatedly on the image to see the full-size version.)