Microsoft marketing tries to take flight with MarketingPilot

Contact: Ben Kolada

Microsoft’s nascent marketing business got a small boost on Wednesday when the company announced the acquisition of marketing automation veteran MarketingPilot Software for an undisclosed sum. Although we’ve been expecting Microsoft to make a marketing buy to add to its CRM business, we anticipated something more significant.

Few details were provided on the rationale for the deal, other than it seems that MarketingPilot will be slotted into Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM business. We think that Microsoft could be proactively adding traditional marketing automation to its CRM suite to better compete with’s feature set, which is strong in social marketing but weak in lead generation.

The transaction is an interesting competitive move, since most of Microsoft’s CRM rivals have focused on social media marketing M&A. However, buying a dated and presumably small company likely won’t considerably alter the competitive landscape for marketing software.

No terms were released on the acquisition, but given MarketingPilot’s size and age, and the language used in the press release (PR), we doubt that the price was substantial. MarketingPilot was founded in 2001 and has 30 employees (who have all joined Microsoft). Further, pure-SaaS companies are receiving the highest valuations nowadays, but in the PR announcing the deal, Microsoft notes that MarketingPilot’s software is available both in the cloud and on-premises.

The transaction is only Microsoft’s second inorganic foray into marketing and advertising software, after its 2008 purchase of Navic Networks for a price reportedly in the range of $200-300m.

Separately, Microsoft will report fiscal year 2013 first-quarter earnings after the closing bell today. Analysts are expecting the company to report revenue of $16.4bn (a nearly 6% drop from the year-ago quarter).

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