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Ad holdings firm Publicis Groupe acquired marketing data firm Epsilon for $4.4 billion. It marks the latest multibillion-dollar acquisition featuring marketing technology. Adobe acquired Marketo in September for $4.75 billion. 

The Epsilon acquisition will support Publicis Groupe's goal to help companies deliver data-driven personalized experiences at scale. Some analysts are skeptical of the deal, citing integration challenges. 

Epilson was a business within Alliance Data Systems Corporation, and will build a partnership with Alliance Data's remaining businesses after the deal is closed. It employs approximately 9,000 people, including 3,700 data scientists and 2,000 Bangalore-based technology delivery professionals and in 2018 generated $1.9 billion in net revenue. 

The connection between Epsilon’s data sets and Publicis Media’s billions of touchpoints will provide intelligence to build consumer IDs, segment audiences and maximize media buying ROI, according to company officials.

In other news from the digital experience space ...

Verint Launches AI Blueprint

Verint Systems announced the launch of AI Blueprint, a conversation analysis system that, according to officials, identifies intelligent virtual assistant use cases and accelerates automation. The goal is to deliver a “blueprint” of how and where businesses can get started with AI or continue to grow their AI capabilities.

BlueConic Debuts AI Workbench

Customer data platform provider BlueConic announced the release of its AI Workbench, which allows marketers to leverage their unified profile database to build and deploy models. The solution is fully integrated into the BlueConic CDP, allowing customers to test models within the same environment. It also adds intelligent customer scores and segmentation. 

Salesforce Introduces New Einstein Services 

Salesforce added new Einstein services that enable admins and developers to build custom AI capabilities into Salesforce. According to the company, the services require "no model set up, training or data science skills" to get started and claim deployment requires only a single line of code. Einstein Platform Services brings optical character recognition, translation, sentiment, intent and more machine learning capabilities directly into Salesforce’s infrastructure. 

Engagio Releases Sales Activation Tools

Engagio, an account-based marketing provider, released Sales Activation Tools, aimed at providing account insights to marketing and sales users. The Sales Activation Tools include real-time alerts and reports, territory digests and account insights in CRM.

Quantum Metric Announces Activate

Quantum Metric, a digital experience intelligence platform, launched Activate, a capability designed to help brands respond to user behavior in the moment. Activate leverages Quantum Metric's data engine to surface digital insights into potential customer pain points or moments of engagement so businesses can take action, through a chat session, onsite optimization and more.

Bizzabo Nets $27 Million

Bizzabo, an events management platform, earned a $27 million Series D funding round. It has also welcomed Viola Growth Partners’ Rafi Carmeli and Eran Westman, and Next47 partner Matthew Cowan to its board of directors. The investment is led by Viola Growth, along with new investor, Next47. Existing investors, including participation from Maor Investments and Pilot Growth, also contributed. The new capital brings Bizzabo’s total funding to $56 million. Officials said the Bizzabo platform powers data-driven, personalized event experiences.

Outreach Attains Unicorn Status

Outreach, a sales engagement platform, secured $114 million in Series E financing, bringing it to a $1.1 billion valuation. Sales engagement uses machine learning to provide insights to sales reps and streamline communication between sales teams and prospects, according to Outreach officials. The result is an increase in pipeline, sales cycle velocity and close rate.

Lone Pine Capital, an American-based private investment manager of both fundamental equity hedge and long-only funds, led Outreach's Series E round with strong participation from Meritech Capital Partners and additional investment from new investor Lemonade Capital, Allison Bhusri's investment fund. Existing investors DFJ Growth, Four Rivers Group, Mayfield, M12, Sapphire Ventures, Spark Capital and Trinity Ventures also joined the round, bringing Outreach's total funding to date to $239 million.

Improvado Raises $8 Million

Improvado, a marketing middleware platform, announced that it raised $8 million total in super seed funding. Venture capital participants in the round include Bullpen Capital, Cabra.vc and IAdata. Angel investors include Google and Oracle executives, and other marketing companies that include Auren Hoffman of LiveRamp, Joe Zawadzki of MediaMath founder, Omar Tawakol of BlueKai and Rajeev Goel of Pubmatic. Improvado's platform connects and consolidate data from different sources into one central repository, according to officials. 

6sense Gains $27 Million 

6sense, an account-based orchestration platform powered by artificial intelligence (AI), announced $27 million in funding. The round was led by Industry Ventures and included participation from existing investors Bain Capital Ventures, Battery Ventures, Costanoa Ventures, Salesforce Ventures and Venrock. 6sense’s priorities for this new round of funding include delivering more AI-driven orchestration capabilities, continued investment in its Sales Intelligence Experience, bolstering strategic service offerings and building an activation channel partner ecosystem.

Reflektion Hires CMO

Reflektion, an AI-powered personalization platform for the retail industry, announced the appointment of Amede Hungerford as CMO. In this role, Hungerford will lead Reflektion’s global marketing strategy. Hungerford previously held roles with Dell Boomi and NetSuite, where he served as CMO and vice president of marketing, respectively, and played an instrumental role in both companies’ explosive growth by scaling the marketing teams, expanding into new markets and moving up-market into the enterprise space.