Even though social CRM is still an emerging market, the deals have been flowing. And it isn’t just one-off, conventional activity, but just about every conceivable type of transaction: public-to-private deals, private-to-private deals, a private equity-backed rollup and even (apparently) a wind-down. Among the more notable deals in this broadly defined space has been RightNow reaching for tiny startup HiveLive last September to add a community offering to its core CRM product and Attensity cobbling together the parts of three companies to form a European giant about a year ago. Attensity was back in the market last month, adding Biz360 to bolster its voice-of-consumer product.
Activity picked up again earlier this week, as Lithium Technologies confirmed that it had acquired Scout Labs for a reported $20-25m. As my colleague China Martens reports, the purchase adds Scout Labs’ social-media monitoring and analytics capabilities to Lithium’s management platform for customer communities. We would highlight the fact that Lithium’s buy comes just four months after the company raised its third round of funding, an $18m tranche that brought total funding to $39m.
While Lithium was raising fresh money – and putting it to work on an acquisition – it appears that another social CRM startup was coming up empty in its effort to get more cash and has pulled the plug. Helpstream, which apparently raised about $10m in two funding rounds from Mohr Davidow Ventures (MDV) and Foundation Capital, has shut its doors, the former CEO has written in a blog post. Helpstream’s website no longer works and MDV has erased Helpstream as a portfolio company, despite leading the vendor’s second round. (Calls to the VCs went unreturned.)
If indeed Helpstream has dried up (as it were), we might point to two reasons why the company struggled. For starters, it was basically a SaaS helpdesk provider that then tried to get into the online customer service community-building game. And if its customers were confused by that, they would have been additionally puzzled by Helpstream’s ‘freemium’ business model. In the end, Helpstream managed to land just 40 paying customers, compared to 200 customers using the free version of its product.