to Buy Radian6, a Bet on Social CRM

Sales automation giant has agreed to buy Radian6, perhaps the best-known social media monitoring firm. The acquisition expands Salesforce into the still nebulous realm of social customer relationship management, and suggests the company sees a big future for selling and delivering customer service through social media.

Salesforce will pay approximately $276 million in cash and $50 million in stock, for a total of about $326 million. An additional $14 million in cash and stock payments are subject to vesting over the next two years.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said in a statement, “Not only will this acquisition accelerate our growth, it will extend the value of all of our offerings.”

Salesforce intends to integrate Radian6 with several of its products, including its Sales Cloud salesforce automation tool, its Service Cloud customer service and support tool, its Chatter private social network for clients, and its application development initiative.

Radian6 claims its customers include more than half of Fortune 100 companies, including Dell, GE, Kodak, and Pepsico. It offers both a monitoring platform, which tracks conversations on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and other online communities and networks – and engagement features.

In December it helped roll out a Social Media Listening Command Center for Dell, a key element of @Dellcares customer care and tech support initiative. Dell is also a customer.

Salesforce has also partnered with other companies, such as Eloqua, to help its customers automate marketing services.

The Salesforce-Radian 6 deal comes a day after eBay made its own belated push into marketing services; it said it will buy GSI Commerce for $2.4 billion. GSI is best known for e-commerce infrastructure and fulfillment but has built up its marketing technology and service holdings.

The Salesforce-Radian6 deal is expected to close before June 30.

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