Social software M&A on the uptick in 2011

Contact: Brian Satterfield

As more businesses leverage social networking websites for marketing and customer support purposes, many big-name buyers are finding social media software vendors to be increasingly attractive targets. The number of deals in the sector rose more than 150% in 2011 from 2010, while spending during that same period soared more than five-fold from $75m to $389m.

The bulk of 2011 social software spending came in March, when forked over $326m for Radian6, a Canadian startup that had raised just $6m. Radian6 was both the CRM giant’s largest deal as well as the priciest transaction ever in the sector. bought Radian6 in order to add social media monitoring features to a number of products in its portfolio. On a smaller scale, we saw similar purchases around that same time by Meltwater Group, which added JitterJam for $6m, and call-center software maker KANA Software, which reached for Overtone.

But enterprise software providers aren’t the only takers in the social software world. Many tech companies that have partial or completely social business models got in on the action, presumably in order to track activity on their own networks. Twitter, for instance, picked up social media monitoring software maker BackType, while Google bought a similar company called PostRank.