Salesforce Buys Marketing Toolmaker ExactTarget for $2.5B

The acquisition gives Salesforce, which runs the world's most-used cloud-based CRM platform, new capabilities that enable more information gathering than ever for customers., continuing to add marketing and social networking tools for use by its Marketing Cloud and groups, revealed June 4 that it will acquire cloud marketing platform provider ExactTarget for $2.5 billion in cash.

Under the terms of the agreement, will pay $33.75 per share for the Indianapolis-based company. The stock was selling at $33.69 at market close on June 4.

ExactTarget positions itself as the world's largest marketing software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider. It provides on-demand software for permission-based email marketing, mobile marketing and social media marketing. ExactTarget sells its software directly to the end user—typically a corporate marketing department—or through a reseller network.

The acquisition of ExactTarget gives Salesforce, which runs the world's most-used cloud-based CRM platform, new capabilities that will enable companies to gather more information about their customers across sales, service and marketing channels, Salesforce said. More than 120,000 enterprises currently use at least one of Salesforce's services.

The acquisition is a clear indicator that Salesforce is now aiming its wares at corporate marketing officers rather than at sales executives.

By combining ExactTarget's digital marketing capabilities with Salesforce's sales, service and social marketing capabilities, Salesforce—which has been strongest in sales and CRM in the past—now is in the process of creating a Tier 1 marketing platform across email, social, mobile and the Web.

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

"Marketing was the fastest growing CRM category in 2012, growing at 21 percent (more than four times the software industry forecast norm in 2012)," said Yvonne Genovese, managing vice president of Gartner's Marketing Leaders Research. "We believe this growth will continue and marketing will be the largest growing CRM category through 2017."

ExactTarget was founded in December 2000 by Scott Dorsey, Chris Baggott and Peter McCormick for an initial investment of $200,000. The company has a current market capitalization value of $2.33 billion; it brought in revenue of $292 million in 2012 and showed profit of $189 million. The company employs 1,352 people.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...