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PHOTO: Mac McCreery

Salesforce this week signed a definitive agreement to acquire Datorama, a cloud-based, AI-powered marketing intelligence and analytics platform. The deal is worth $800 million. Datorama's technology is designed to optimize marketing campaigns, automate reporting and help marketers make data-driven decisions using Artificial Intelligence (AI) engines. 

Salesforce's acquisition of Datorama expands its Marketing Cloud offering with data integration and intelligence. Datorama users will have access to the Salesforce CRM. "With one unified view of data and insights, companies can make smarter decisions across the entire customer journey and optimize engagement at scale," Datorama CEO Ran Sarig said in a blog post.

Big players in the marketing technology space have made acquisitions in the past year trying to piece together point solutions into their stack. SAP and Adobe have made major acquisitions recently, SAP acquiring Callidus Cloud for $2.4 billion and Adobe acquiring Magento for $1.68 billion

In other customer experience technology news ...

Alibaba Group Acquires $1.43 Billion Interest in Focus Media

Salesforce was not the only customer experience software company making big moves this week. Alibaba Group announced it will acquire a minority interest in China’s Focus Media Information Technology Co. for $1.43 billion, which earns Alibaba a 6.62 percent share. The Chinese ecommerce giant now gets access to fellow Chinese provider Focus Media's digital advertising screens that can be seen on streets, in subways and in elevators across 300 Chinese cities. In addition to those pre-existing shares, Alibaba officials said they plan to acquire another 5 percent interest in Focus Media within the next 12 months.

Alibaba officials want to further the company's investment in the company's "new retail" strategy. New retail integrates the best aspects of online and offline commerce while offering enhanced marketing tools and consumer analytics to merchants. Officials also said Focus Media will play well with Alimama, Alibaba’s largest digital-marketing platform.

Qubit Announces Integrations with SAP, Salesforce 

Qubit, which offers marketing personalization technologies, has launched integrations with SAP and Salesforce. The integration with SAP features connections with SAP Customer Experience. The Qubit Pro and Qubit Aura products, which allow ecommerce companies to create personalized experiences, now integrate with cloud commerce platforms of existing SAP Hybris users. It features data collection methods, advanced segmentation capabilities and a suite of personalization techniques. 

The Qubit integration with Salesforce Commerce Cloud is designed to automate the integration of Qubit’s data layer. Users will be able to collect behavioral data on their customers and leverage Qubit's platform. 

Pegasystems Launches Pega Digital Experience API

Pegasystems has debuted the Pega Digital Experience API, a set of design and application development capabilities designed to provide digital experiences on any web or mobile channel. It is part of the Pega Infinity digital transformation suite. Officials said the Pega Digital Experience API allows front-end developers to create user interfaces that embed Pega’s process automation and customer experience functionality. Developers can leverage UI frameworks such as React and Angular together with Pega’s UX design system as a REST-enabled service to power their front-end UI frameworks. 

The Pega Digital Experience API also provides UX metadata to help developers embed business logic such as required fields, data types, validation rules and more. UI elements changed using Pega’s no-code UX design system will be immediately reflected in custom JavaScript frameworks. It also includes starter packs and sample code to integrate Angular and React into workflows.

HubSpot Releases Marketing Hub Starter

HubSpot, a CRM, marketing, sales, and customer service platform, has released Marketing Hub Starter, which aims to help teams start marketing. This new tier of HubSpot’s platform helps businesses consolidate the capabilities of existing marketing tools into one platform. It builds on lead capture features available in HubSpot’s free marketing tool. It includes email marketing, list segmentation based on contact properties, integrations with Facebook and Instagram lead ads, custom lead flow fields for more targeted nurturing and reporting that goes beyond email opens and clicks to track returning contacts, top personas, engagement over time, ad performance, and more.

Volpe Lands as Lola's CEO

Speaking of HubSpot ...

Former HubSpot CMO Mike Volpe has been named Lola's CEO. HubSpot fired Volpe in 2015 as the company announced that he had been “terminated for cause following a determination that Mr. Volpe violated the Company's Code of Business Conduct and Ethics in connection with attempts to procure a draft manuscript of a book involving the Company.” That book was technology journalist Dan Lyons' “Disrupted, My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble.” 

Lola provides software for corporate travel. Before joining Lola, Volpe served as CMO of Cybereason, a gig he held for two years. He's also an active board member of Validity and Repsly, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Oracle Offers SMS Public Aggregator Network 

Oracle has introduced the SMS Public Aggregator Network (SPAN), a self-service application within Oracle Marketing Cloud. Company officials promised it will help customers find, order, and manage SMS services directly from their chosen aggregator. Integrating SMS into marketing campaigns requires finding an aggregator network that aligns with broader campaign goals, according to Oracle officials. “Marketers want to take advantage of mobile channels, but there are often too many barriers in the way. For SMS, one of those challenges is establishing aggregator relationships, which can be a time consuming and tedious task often made worse by limited choice and flexibility,” Tony Castiglioni, VP of product management for Oracle Responsys, said in a statement. Oracle Responsys is part of the Oracle Marketing Cloud, which is under the Oracle Customer Experience (CX) Cloud Suite.