Salesforce.com Acquires RelateIQ For $390 Million, Preempting A Future Rival
Retrieved from Forbes on July 11, 2014
Author: Alex Konrad
RelateIQ apparently got Salesforce.com's attention as one of a new wave of challengers in the customer relationship management software business. So much so that Salesforce is going to neutralize the threat by bringing the startup into the fold.
The deal, according to a regulatory filing, will cost Salesforce about $350 million in Salesforce stock and $40 million to cover the expected cash on hand at RelateIQ on August 1. RelateIQ had only recently raised a new venture round led by Redpoint Ventures, reportedly at a $245 million valuation.
Re/code first reported news of the deal, and RelateIQ cofounder and CEO Steve Loughlin confirmed it in a blog post Friday morning. In the post, Loughlin writes: "Salesforce.com's acquisition of RelateIQ will extend the value of Salesforce.com's #1 CRM apps and platform with a new level of intelligence across sales, service, and marketing."
That's how RelateIQ will position this--that Salesforce is the early leader in CRM and enterprise cloud, but RelateIQ has been (in its own view) a leader in building from that early work to provide a nimbler product. As its investor Redpoint wrote in a post in March, RelateIQ looks to offer more of an automated data collection process, with more immediate insights from what the traditional process collects and analyzes. The company was founded in 2011 in Palo Alto, Calif. and had only brought its software to market last year.
While Salesforce has made other, bigger acquisitions like the $2.5 billion deal for ExactTarget in the past several years, those moves have largely been about broadening its offerings to add more marketing services. Its customer service platform was also largely built out of a smaller acquisition, Assistly, which it bought in 2011.
A Salesforce.com spokesperson wrote this statement to Forbes confirming the deal: "We're excited to confirm that Salesforce.com has signed an agreement to acquire RelateIQ. All of the information we're providing is in their blog post."
RelateIQ's purchase appears to be a different type of deal--as much preempting a threat as anything else. It appears that at least for now RelateIQ will operate largely independently while Salesforce goes in and finds the best practices to bring back to its own main platform.
The valuation boosts RelateIQ's sticker price almost 60% from when it raised just weeks ago. That's a good return for its venture investors. While $390 million doesn't look huge from the Salesforce side compared to the coin it dropped on ExactTarget, the quick flip of the company to exit will look good on the books at Redpoint, as well as at Felicis Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and News Corporation, and even better at earlier investors Battery Ventures and Accel, who reportedly backed the company last year at a $100 million valuation.
I've reached out to Loughlin, and investors for comment and will update this story when I hear back.
I'm an associate editor at Forbes covering venture capital, cloud and enterprise software out of New York. I edit the Midas List, Midas List Europe, Cloud 100 list and 30 Under 30 for VC. I'm a Fortune Magazine and WNYC alum. MORE