This week's digital marketing news cycle started out with a bang as Salesforce.com revealed it will buy Buddy Media for $745 million. But it came after a tumultuous two weeks on the stock market for Facebook, which is the dominant platform that Buddy Media works with to help big brands reach consumers. Before the deal was made official, AllThingsD reported that Salesforce would pay "more than $800 million," according to the publication's sources at the time. That's at least $55 million more than the final price.
Whether Facebook's falling stock price affected how much Buddy Media was able to demand in the final stages of negotiations is unknown. A better question going forward may be: What could Facebook's current Wall Street woes mean to other social media marketing vendors, such as Syncapse, Wildfire, Friend2Friend, Offerpop and FanBridge, as large companies like IBM and Microsoft come around to kick the tires?
Like a lot of things, it depends on whom you talk to.
Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moorhead Insights & Strategy, leaves little doubt he thinks that social media marketing vendors have been taken down a notch by the social giant's stock price slip.
"Every company connected to the Facebook ecosystem has been negatively impacted on evaluations," he said. "Financial analysts and investment bankers see, as Facebook's profit potential declines, their ecosystem profits decline, too. This is classic financial industry [sector] analysis and expected in the early days of Facebook."
ClickZ also reached out to a social marketing vendor exec that sold to a larger firm in 2011. Speaking under the condition of anonymity, the source suggested that most vendors in the Facebook ecosystem were fortunate since they focused on content management rather than ad buying. Even if General Motors pulls $10 million in Facebook ad purchases, the exec said, the automotive brand is still spending $30 million on maintaining its audience on the social site.
Independent vendors will continue to have strong value "as long as brands continue to do other things [than buy ads] on Facebook," the source said.
One of the vendors still on the market, Offerpop, addressed the issues surrounding Facebook's falling stock prices. When asked about whether bigger companies might now pay less for vendors, Mark Cooper, CMO for the New York-based vendor, replied, "I doubt it."
At the same time, Cooper suggested that in a year when major names like Buddy Media and Vitrue (an Oracle acquisition) have been gobbled up by publicly traded companies, there are probably more alike developments coming down the pike.
"We are seeing and hearing a lot of activity taking place," he said.
New York-based Buddy Media was contacted for this story but didn't comment.
Update: This story originally stated Buddy Media's sale price was $689 million.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
March 19, 2014