Row of newspaper boxes on a street.
PHOTO: Steve Harris

Salesforce has announced a partnership with Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba. Through the deal, Alibaba becomes the exclusive provider of Salesforce to customers in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, according to Salesforce officials, and Salesforce will become the exclusive enterprise CRM product suite sold by Alibaba

Salesforce customers in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan will be able to take advantage of Alibaba’s infrastructure and knowledge of these markets. Salesforce previously did not have a big stake in China. Multinational customers wanted support, according to company officials. The deal comes at a time China and US are in a trade war with stalled talks planned to resume.

In other customer experience software news ....

Sitecore Updates Experience Platform, Release Content Marketing Platform

Digital experience management software provider Sitecore has announced the mid-year releases of Sitecore Experience Platform and Sitecore Content Hub. The update also includes enhancements to Sitecore’s Managed Cloud offerings. The version 9.2 release of Sitecore Experience Platform and version 3.2 release of Sitecore Content Hub include a full integration of Sitecore DAM with Sitecore web content management as well as alignment between Sitecore JavaScript Services and Sitecore Experience Accelerator, active personalization reporting and data purging.

Sitecore also announced the debut of the Sitecore Content Marketing Platform. It merges strategic and project planning with content creation, management and analysis into one unified platform, according to Sitecore officials. The platform is integrated with Sitecore Experience Platform and makes content automatically available in the web content management system.

Arc Publishing Introduces PageBuilder Themes

Arc Publishing has created PageBuilder Themes, a solution designed to help brands build and launch new sites while taking advantage of Arc’s existing customization capabilities and flexible site management system. PageBuilder Themes extends Arc’s existing customization capabilities and also streamlines brand identity management. Users from separate business units, franchises or affiliate publications can independently stand up new sites or pages. Development teams can build new user experiences, providing a design system running atop a React-based development framework.

Arc Publishing was built by engineers and designers at the Washington Post for the paper before being spun out as a separate business providing a digital platform and suite of tools for other publishers.

InsideView Updates Data Platform

InsideView, a targeting intelligence provider, released new features to its data platform, including AI-powered matching, branch and site location data, and data diagnostics to evaluate CRM data quality. InsideView also offers resources including professional services. Company officials said these offerings can help those getting off Salesforce's data.com, which is retiring in 2020.

Contentstack Expands SAP Partnership 

Contentstack, a content experience platform vendor, has expanded its partnership with SAP to support the newly launched SAP Cloud Platform Extension Factory. Users will be able to create cloud-native extensions. Company officials say Contenstack's API-first content management system can now integrate with SAP cloud products. SAP Cloud Platform Extension Factory is SAP's extensibility framework.

Lytics Announces StartSmart Program 

Lytics, a customer data platform provider, has released a StartSmart program. The eight-week program walks customers through marketing strategy and tactics guidance to support customers in getting the most out of their CDP.

Chrous.ai Announces HubSpot, Amazon, ShoreTel Integrations

Chorus.ai, which provides a conversation intelligence platform for sales teams, has announced integrations with HubSpot, Amazon Connect and ShoreTel Web Dialer.  Calls made using Amazon Connect and ShoreTel Web Dialer can now be recorded, transcribed and analyzed using Chorus's AI-based platform. The integration with HubSpot CRM allows sales teams to analyze recorded conversations in the context of deal data and analyze sales forecasts through Chorus Deal View.

mParticle Updates Data Unification, Orchestration Capabilities

mParticle, sellers of a customer data platform, has launched several features to extend data unification and orchestration capabilities. This includes a User Aliasing API to help customers better manage and merge customer profiles, self-hosting support to further improve the security and stability of mParticle’s Web Software Developer Kit (SDK), and an integration with Google Tag Manager (GTM).

DemandJump Raises $5.5M

DemandJump announced it raised $5.5 million in Series A2 funding led by venture investment firm BIP Capital. The company has now raised to date to over $14 million. DemandJump plans to use the additional funding to continue to expand their product, engineering, sales and marketing teams. 

TrustRadius Nets $12.5M 

TrustRadius, a customer review platform for B2B technology, has netted $12.5 million Series C funding led by Next Coast Ventures with continued participation by returning investors the Mayfield Fund and LiveOak Ventures. This round brings the company’s total equity financing to $25 million. The company will use the funding to scale all teams, with a focus on sales and engineering. 

Pyze Announces $4.6 Million

Pyze, provider of an AI-driven cross-platform for user analytics and omnichannel campaign management, announced $4.6 Million in funding. The round was led by Illuminate Ventures with participation by Benhamou Global Ventures and Correlation Ventures. Cindy Padnos, founder and managing partner at Illuminate, will join the Pyze Board.

Hero Digital Acquires Bulldog Solutions

Customer experience agency Hero Digital has acquired Bulldog Solutions, a B2B marketing services agency based in Austin, Texas. The combined company offers B2B expertise for its clients. Bulldog will be combined with Hero Digital's broader customer experience practice to centralize B2B marketing services in Austin. As part of the acquisition, Bulldog CEO Randy Watson will be joining Hero Digital as general manager of the Austin office reporting to Hero Digital CEO David Kilimnik. Bulldog founder Rob Solomon will become SVP, strategy, at Hero Digital. Bulldog's executive team will remain the same. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

SoftBank Group Partners with Apple, Microsoft to Fund 'AI Revolution'

SoftBank Group of Japan is partnering with tech firms including Apple and Microsoft in a new $108-billion investment fund. This fund, officials say, will support the "AI revolution."

SoftBank Group also has a Vision Fund, which includes investments in Uber to WeWork. SoftBank Group itself will add $38 billion into the new fund for AI, which will also include investments from Apple, Microsoft, Foxconn, a range of Japanese banks, Standard Chartered and the National Bank of Kazakstan. They're calling it Vision Fund 2, and company officials in a statement said it will "facilitate the continued acceleration of the AI (artificial intelligence) revolution through investment in market-leading, tech-enabled growth companies."

Facebook Hiring Privacy Critics

Facebook is bringing some tough privacy critics in house. Kevin Bankston, an Internet rights advocate at New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI), is now Facebook's privacy policy director. He was hired last month. It follows the recent hiring of OTI's Robyn Greene, former Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Nate Cardozo and former Access Now senior legislative manager Nathan White, according to the Washington Post. The moves come at the same time Facebook received a $5 billion fine from the FTC, a settlement FTC dissenters state shouldn't have been offered