A market-moving marketing move

Contact: Brenon Daly

In the largest-ever transaction in the rapidly emerging marketing automation industry, salesforce.com said on June 4 it will hand over $2.5bn in cash for ExactTarget. The deal represents a significant bet by the SaaS kingpin, which has talked about cross-channel marketing becoming a $1bn business in the coming years. Salesforce.com will nearly clean out its coffers to cover its purchase of ExactTarget, which is three times the size of salesforce.com’s second-largest deal.

Under terms, salesforce.com will hand over $33.75 for each share of ExactTarget. That represents the highest-ever price for the 13-year-old marketing automation vendor, which went public in March 2012 at $19. (J.P. Morgan Securities led ExactTarget’s IPO and advised the company on its sale. Bank of America Merrill Lynch worked the other side.) The deal is expected to close by mid-July.

At an enterprise value of $2.4bn, ExactTarget’s valuation of roughly 7.6 times trailing sales splits the difference between the two previous largest transactions in the marketing automation space. In December 2012, Oracle paid an uncharacteristically rich 9.7 times trailing sales for Eloqua, and Teradata paid 6.5 times trailing sales for Aprimo in December 2010, according to the 451 Research M&A KnowledgeBase. (For its part, rival Marketo, which salesforce.com and others were rumored to have looked at last fall, trades at nearly twice ExactTarget’s multiple.)

With the purchase of ExactTarget, the three largest deals salesforce.com has done have all been aimed at expanding the company’s marketing offering. It picked up Buddy Media in mid-2012 for $689m for its agency relationships after spending $326m on social media monitoring startup Radian6 in March 2011. But don’t look for any more deals in that space or any other from salesforce.com soon. During a call discussing the ExactTarget purchase, CEO Marc Benioff said salesforce.com will be on ‘vacation’ from M&A for the next 12-18 months.

Heading toward an ‘Eloqua-ent’ IPO

Contact: Brenon Daly

A little more than a month after the strong IPO by a rival on-demand marketing vendor, Eloqua has taken its first significant step toward an offering of its own, according to market sources. We understand that the company has tapped J.P. Morgan Securities and Deutsche Bank Securities to lead the IPO, with a filing expected in a few weeks. Co-managers will be Pacific Crest Securities, JMP Securities and Needham & Co.

Eloqua has been positioning itself for an offering for the past few years, taking steps such as moving its headquarters from Canada to the Washington DC area, as well as hiring a raft of senior executives, most of whom have experience at public companies. Meanwhile, on the other side, Wall Street appears ready to buy off on marketing automation companies. At least the demand has been there for rival Responsys, which went public in late April and currently trades at a $750m valuation.

Responsys’ valuation works out to about 8 times 2010 sales and 6x 2011 sales at the on-demand company. Eloqua, which also sells its marketing automation software through a subscription model, is thought to be about half the size of Responsys. Assuming that Wall Street values the two rivals at a similar multiple, Eloqua could find itself valued at $350-400m when it hits the market later this year.

Another marketing maker heading to market?

Contact: Brenon Daly

Will Eloqua respond to Responsys? Does the rival on-demand marketing vendor perhaps have an IPO of its own planned? We couldn’t help but wonder that last Thursday as investors showed that they could hardly get enough of the Responsys offering, which priced above range and then tacked on another 28% in its first day of trading. The IPO created some $680m in market value for Responsys.

Responsys’ rather heady valuation (roughly 7x trailing sales and 5x projected sales) undoubtedly has to have generated more than a little interest from folks at Eloqua. And the company certainly has been taking steps in recent years that could indicate that it is eyeing the public market. For instance, three years ago it moved its headquarters from Canada to the Washington DC area while also hiring a raft of senior executives, most of whom have experience at public companies.

According to our understanding, Eloqua is a bit less than one-third the size of Responsys, which generated $94m in sales last year. Also, we gather that Eloqua lags a bit behind the 40% compound annual growth rate that Responsys has put up over the past half-decade. Still, the company offers a fairly compelling profile, with predictable subscription revenue flowing from its more than 800 customers. The strong debut from Responsys, plus the fact that shares of fellow on-demand marketer Constant Contact are trading around all-time highs, clearly suggest that Wall Street is in the market for marketing vendors.

Where might Omniture shop next?

-by Thomas Rasmussen, Kathleen Reidy

When we checked in with Omniture last month, we noted that it was likely to do a bit of shopping. My colleague Kathleen Reidy expanded on that recently with an in-depth report on the possible M&A moves by the analytics giant. Omniture has already shown itself ready to shop, having picked up five companies since its IPO in 2006. Those acquisitions, along with a solid organic growth rate, have helped to push up Omniture’s revenue seven-fold in the past three years. The company finished 2008 with $296m in sales. First-quarter results are due Thursday before the opening bell.

Having essentially consolidated its core market (except for a few private competitors), where might the giant shop next? We think a broader push into marketing automation seems a logical next step. Email marketing is one of the most active areas of Omniture’s Genesis ISV partner program. Potential targets in this space include Eloqua, a well-known and established player in marketing automation. The vendor pulled in an estimated $35m in revenue last year and has so far raised more than $40m in venture funding. Other potential targets include Silverpop, Right On Interactive and Marketbright. Like Mercado Software, which Omniture scooped up last October, all of these email marketing startups are Genesis partners.

Omniture’s acquisitions to date

Target Date Deal value Technology/Rationale
Mercado Software October 14, 2008 $6.5m Retail site search/merchandising
Visual Sciences October 25, 2007 $394m Web analytics market share
Offermatica September 7, 2007 $65m Multivariate testing
Touch Clarity February 14, 2007 $48.5m Behavioral targeting
Instadia January 18, 2007 $11.4m Web analytics market share – Europe

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase