Salesforce Acquires ExactTarget for $2.5B

Salesforce made its largest acquisition to date with a $2.5 billion deal to purchase ExactTarget.

The cross-channel interactive marketing platform began as an email-marketing provider in 2000 and went public for $161 million in late March last year. But ExactTarget only lasted as a publicly traded company for about 15 months before Salesforce came along with an offer that values the company more than 50 percent above its market cap on Monday’s close.

Salesforce says it will combine ExactTarget’s digital marketing capabilities with its existing strengths in sales, CRM and social marketing to expand its cloud marketing platform and allow brands to manage campaigns across email, social, mobile and online. The company also highlighted recent data from Gartner that concludes at least one-third of consumer technology companies’ marketing budgets will be moved to digital by 2015.

“The chief marketing officer is expected to spend more on technology than the chief information officer by 2017,” notes Marc Benioff, chairman and chief executive at Salesforce. “The addition of ExactTarget makes Salesforce the starting place for every company and puts Salesforce in the pole position to capture this opportunity.”

The 10-figure acquisition of ExactTarget is the latest in a series of major deals aimed at positioning Salesforce as a comprehensive sales, CRM and marketing solution for brands across all digital channels. Salesforce acquired the social media monitoring firm Radian6 for $326 million in March 2011 and followed up last year with its $689 million acquisition of Buddy Media. The social-listening technology and real-time bidding platforms are being integrated into, Salesforce’s new social marketing platform that enables marketers to “buy into the moment.”

“ExactTarget’s mission is to revolutionize how businesses connect with their consumers using data-driven digital marketing across all channels,” Scott Dorsey, chairman, chief executive and co-founder of ExactTarget, says in a prepared statement. “Salesforce’s tremendous strength in social marketing, along with its leadership position in sales and service, not only will accelerate this vision, but also provide our customers with a powerful, integrated CRM platform to transform their end-to-end customer experience.”

More than 6,000 companies are using ExactTarget’s cloud marketing platform today. The all-cash transaction is expected to close by the end of July.

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