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.

The new (unexpected) IPO hotspot

Contact: Brenon Daly

Forget Silicon Valley or New York or even Boston. The new tech IPO hotspot is a place that typically only gets flown over by investment bankers looking in the more traditional locations for the next companies trying to make it public. What’s the exotic and (potentially) lucrative new launch pad? Indianapolis. That’s right, the same city that has seen its football team go winless so far this season is putting up big points on the board for IPOs.

One company based in Indiana’s capital has already gone public this month, and another one has just followed up with a prospectus of its own. Angie’s List raised more than $100m in its mid-November offering. (The subscription-based service review site priced its shares at the high end of their expected range, and has seen them trade back down to around the offer price.) And just before Thanksgiving, ExactTarget filed its paperwork for a $100m IPO of its own.

Or, more accurately in the case of ExactTarget, the online marketer has re-filed for an IPO. It originally filed its S-1 almost exactly four years ago, but pulled that in mid-2009 as the equity market melted down. In the intervening years, ExactTarget has gotten substantially bigger. In fact, the company’s revenue in its most recent quarter ($55m in Q3) is higher than its total for the last year it was on file (full-year 2007 sales of $48m).

Another area it has bulked up: its underwriting team. Although ExactTarget originally went with a full slate of midmarket banks to bring it public, it now has bulge-bracket firms J.P. Morgan Securities and Deutsche Bank Securities leading the deal, along with original sole lead Stifel Nicolaus Weisel (or Thomas Weisel Partners, as it was known back then).