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Adobe has agreed to acquired Marketo for $4.75 billion in a digital customer experience software mega deal that confirms rumors first published last week. Adobe made the announcement Thursday afternoon in a press release. The move combines software from two of the major players in digital experience software and is one the space's largest acquisitions. This year, only Salesforce's $7.5 billion acquisition of MuleSoft tops the Adobe-Marketo deal in terms of money. Adobe also acquired Magento this year for $1.68 billion.

The Adobe Experience Cloud will now feature the Marketo Engagement Platform. Moreover, this rounds out Adobe's capabilities and helps it tap heavily into the B2B marketing market. Until now, it served mainly large B2C marketing use cases. Specifically, it will feature Adobe Experience Cloud analytics, content, personalization, advertising and commerce capabilities with Marketo’s lead management and account-based marketing technology.

Steve Lucas, Marketo CEO, will become part of Adobe's senior leadership team and continue to lead the Marketo team as part of Adobe’s Digital Experience business, reporting to executive vice president and general manager Brad Rencher. Lucas became Marketo CEO in November of 2016, part of a large executive shakeup for the San Mateo, Calif.-based marketing automation provider that came post Vista Equity Partners acquisition. The private equity firm bought Marketo for $1.79 billion in May of 2016.

The Adobe-Marketo mega deal comes amid a flurry of mergers and acquisition activity in the software space that heavily impacts marketing this year: 

  • Salesforce acquired MuleSoft for $6.5 billion 
  • Adobe acquired Marketo for $4.75 billion
  • Cisco acquired AppDynamics for $3.7 billion 
  • SAP acquired CallisCloud for $2.4 billion
  • Adobe acquired Magento for $1.7 billion 
  • Salesforce acquired Dataroma for $800 million
  • Salesforce acquired CloudCraze for an undisclosed amount

In terms of similar deals in the past, Marketo came with a much higher price tag. Oracle bought B2C marketing software player Responsys for $1.5 billion in 2013. Oracle bought B2B marketing automation provider Eloqua for $871 million in 2012. Salesforce bought email marketing provider ExactTarget for $2.5 billion. Of course, those companies weren't just coming off a billion-dollar private-equity acquisition like Marketo.

"From our perspective, when we looked at what we had with the experience cloud, we recognized that the engagement with these customers is critical and it's increasingly digital," Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe, said in a Sept. 20 conference call. "And so the fact that we have all of the content that's required to engage with these different constituents and the data that we have for insight, it felt like we were really in a very unique position to be able to serve the needs of all marketers."

In other customer experience software news ...

Gartner Names CRM Lead Management Leader

Gartner released its leaders in CRM Lead Management in its Magic Quadrant (fee required) published Sept. 12. Leading the way were Oracle, Marketo, Salesforce and IBM. According to Gartner researchers Ilona Hansen, Jason Daigler, Julian Poulter and Noah Elkin, the market for CRM lead management applications grew by 14 percent last year. Vendors have stepped up their game this year with multichannel lead management capabilities and have infused Artificial Intelligence (AI) for scoring and nurturing.

According to Gartner, CRM lead management is "the process of capturing leads, tracking their activities and behavior, qualifying them, giving them constant attention to make them sales-ready, and then passing them on to the sales team." Practitioners in this space want to provide sales with "higher-value, qualified opportunities at exactly the right time." CRM lead management applications integrate with Salesforce automation (SFA), digital commerce applications, field service CRM technologies and customer-service-supporting solutions.

Vonage Announces Agreement to Acquire NewVoiceMedia

Vonage has entered into an agreement to acquire privately-held NewVoiceMedia, a cloud Contact Center-as-a-Service provider, for an equity price of $350 million paid in cash. The acquisition combines Vonage's Unified Communications-as-a-Service and Communications Platform-as-a-Service solutions with NewVoiceMedia's cloud contact center offerings.

Officials said more than 700 primarily mid-market and enterprise customers use NewVoiceMedia for a range of customer engagement use cases, from inbound customer support to outbound sales. Dennis Fois, CEO of NewVoiceMedia, will continue to lead that part of the new business. Upon closing, the senior leadership team and its more than 400 employees will join Vonage. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2018 and is subject to standard regulatory review and customary closing conditions. 

Salesforce Debuts New Voice Tool Einstein

Salesforce has launched a series of new tools for its Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based Einstein platform. The new Einstein Voice includes an assistant tool. It can listen to voices and take memos and input for CRM management.

Salesforce also announced Einstein Voice Bots, which let companies create their own voice bots for answering customer service questions via a smart speaker. Users will be able to update their CRM software databases by dictating memos to Salesforce Einstein with their voice. Einstein Voice Assistant will then interpret the voice memo, translate it into text, and log that information into Salesforce, according to officials. Salesforce announced that customers can build their own voice bots on the Einstein Bot Platform. Einstein Voice Assistant will be tested in pilot in October, and Einstein Voice Bots will be in June 2019. 

Hootsuite Announces Google Ads Integration and Premier Partner Status

Hootsuite, which provides social media management, announced this week the integration of Google Ads into Hootsuite. Hootsuite has also been awarded an official Google Premier Partner Badge. 

Google Ads now directly integrates into Hootsuite Ads and AdEspresso by Hootsuite, a digital ad platform for performance advertisers of small and mid-sized businesses. It brings together search and social advertising campaigns. Hootsuite’s ad products help customers manage their online advertisements, track spending, compare results across Facebook, Instagram and now Google.

Sigstr Secures $4 Million Investment 

Sigstr, a platform for employee email signature marketing and relationship intelligence, has secured $4 million in new growth investment led by Edison Partners. Sigstr recently launched its relationship intelligence application, Sigstr Pulse, which uses AI to map and quantify the collective networks of all employees in a company.

“Sigstr’s vision is to help marketing and sales unlock the value of employee email. The high-growth plan we’ve put to action isn’t slowing down, as we plan to hit one million Sigstr users by 2020," Bryan Wade, CEO of Sigstr, said in a statement.