Salesforce has established itself as a powerhouse in the enterprise software world since their founding in 1999. Their constant innovation, mixed with the ability to predict trends has enabled them to gain dominance in most of the product sectors they operate in.
A big part of their growth strategy has been the ability to acquire companies, and integrate them into their existing technology stack. And when Salesforce do acquisitions, they go big. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest Salesforce acquisitions of all time.
Acquisition Date: Dec 1st, 2020
Purchase Price: $27.7B
One-line Pitch: “Make work life simpler, more pleasant and more productive. Slack is the collaboration hub that brings the right people, information and tools together to get work done.”
Why Salesforce bought them: Salesforce has imagined the “Social Enterprise” for a while. When they first released Chatter back in 2009, this was the first building block to create a platform for employees to collaborate on their CRM system.
Fast forward to today and the world has changed, we have gone completely remote, and tools like Slack are trying to replace email. Salesforce sees a future where tools like Slack enable better communication, which results in real business impact. Such as deals having higher close rates, and support cases being resolved faster.
Where are they now? Salesforce is still working behind the scenes to close the Slack acquisition with regulatory approval, but they hope to resolve this by end of August. In the meantime, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has stated they are ready to shape all their existing technology, around the Slack acquisition.
Acquisition Date: Jun 10th, 2019
Purchase Price: $15.7B
One-line Pitch: “[Tableau] make breakthrough products that change the way people use data.”
Why Salesforce bought them: Salesforce’s ethos is to be the #1 in every category their ever-expanding platform covers. It’s no surprise then, that the #1 analytics platform was on their wish list. The announcement did raise eyebrows, however, as Salesforce Einstein Analytics (Now called Tableau CRM) was regarded as a competitor of Tableau.
Salesforce still see digital transformation as a trending topic among the companies that are yet to make the move to Cloud solutions, and Tableau is the perfect companion to dive into all your data.
Where are they now? Since the acquisition, Tableau has remained a fairly standalone application, whilst Einstein Analytics has been rebranded to Tableau CRM, which remains as Salesforce’s native Business Intelligence tool.
Acquisition Date: Mar 20th, 2018
Purchase Price: $6.5B
One-line Pitch: “Mulesoft provides a software platform that enables organizations to easily build application networks using APIs…the digital glue that allows applications to talk to each other and exchange data.”
Why Salesforce bought them: Mulesoft was a perfect acquisition for Salesforce, one that helped them deliver the vision of digital transformation to their enterprise clients.
At a high-level, you can look at Mulesoft as an integration platform, one that can connect anything to anything (Within reason!). Whilst a lot of companies were moving their sales, service, and marketing technology onto the Cloud, there is always going to be other backend systems that need integrating back into Salesforce. Think systems like, ERP, Accounting, HR, etc…
Mulesoft were a long term partner of Salesforce, and the acquisition enabled them to offer this core part of digital transformation to their clients.
Where are they now? The Mulesoft product has kept it’s name and it’s core function since the acquisition, but has continued to expand it’s connectors, and templates, that allow you to connect to other systems as easily as possible.
Salesforce has recently released Mulesoft Composer, which is a lighter weight version of Mulesoft built on the native Salesforce platform that enables Admin’s to build integrations with out of the box connectors.
Acquisition Date: Jun 1, 2016
Purchase Price: $2.8B
One-line Pitch: “Demandware provides enterprise cloud commerce solutions that empower the world’s leading retailers to continuously innovate.”
Why Salesforce bought them: Salesforce had mastered the B2B cloud software market, and yet, always had the taste for the B2C market, naturally. Mix in their growing desire to infiltrate front-end operations, and you can see why E-commerce quenched their thirst – the missing piece of the puzzle for B2C customer engagement.
Traditionally, retailers were never fixated on CRM, but Salesforce spotted the future need for 1-to-1 shopping experiences. Demandware had capitalised on a data-driven world with high consumer expectations; however, the price was likely justified by the well-engineered product and Demandware’s existing enterprise customer base.
Where are they now? Demandware became Commerce Cloud very quickly, grabbing the attention of next-generation retailers who want an end to disparate data sources. Commerce Cloud offers ‘omnichannel commerce’, that is, a seamless retail experience across the growing number of digital and physical engagement channels, including web, social, mobile, store, and others.
Acquisition Date: Jun 4, 2013
Purchase Price: $2.5B
One-line Pitch: “ExactTarget provides on-demand one-to-one email marketing software applications.”
Why Salesforce bought them: After conquering the sales and service departments, Salesforce looked to expand in the pre-sales direction. The next logical step was Marketing.
ExactTarget were a 2000-strong organisation, running 13 years pre-acquisition. The product was the comprehensive, robust foundation Salesforce was seeking as the backbone for their enterprise Marketing suite. In addition, ExactTarget had acquired Pardot 6 months previously – now able to position themselves to both B2B and B2C prospects. It’s funny to read TechCrunch’s observations following the ExactTarget-Pardot announcement: “it puts ExactTarget into a better position against the likes of Salesforce.” (TechCrunch).
Where are they now? Clearly, Marketing Cloud was boosted with the addition of ExactTarget’s core Marketing Automation capabilities, specifically around email marketing. Marketing Cloud, now split into 7 products, is a beast – in terms of its all-encompassing, multichannel functionality. Marketers can cover email, SMS, social, digital advertising and more with the product suite. The user experience is highly engaging and has that ‘wow’ factor, particularly with Journey Builder and Einstein Smart Splits.
And Pardot? Pardot is growing from strength to strength every quarter. Originally targeted at the SMB market, the investment in product development has paid off; now Pardot has attracted an impressive enterprise-level client base, with the likes of Amazon and Stanley Black & Decker in its portfolio. In 2014, they acquired 1,128 new customers in a single month (3x their previous acquisition rate), making it the fastest-growing marketing automation system on the market.
Salesforce shut down all of Pardot’s other CRM connectors mid-2017, tactfully Salesforce CRM is the sole option.
Acquisition Date: Aug 7th, 2019
Purchase Price: $1.35B
One-line Pitch: “ClickSoftware improves the efficiency and effectiveness of field service organizations and mobile workforces. Real-time operational intelligence delivers real business value.”
Why Salesforce bought them: ClickSoftware has been around for many years (1997) as pioneers in the field service space. The ClickSoftware team were heavily involved in developing the Salesforce Field Service Lightning (FSL) product, which meant the acquisition was only a matter of time – not an ‘if’ but ‘when’.
Where are they now? Salesforce FSL has been coming on in leaps and bounds recently (a product that has been in the market since 2016).
The Field Service Lightning Keynote at Dreamforce ‘19 hinted that since the acquisition, ‘major investments’ have been made in advanced scheduling and location technology (the latter thanks to Salesforce Maps, formerly the MapAnything application).
Acquisition Date: Feb 26th, 2020
Purchase Price: $1.33B
One-line Pitch: “Vlocity is built natively on the Salesforce Platform and it is a leading provider of industry-specific solutions”
Why Salesforce bought them: Salesforce has recognized the need for industry-specific Clouds for a while, building the Financial Services, and Health Clouds on their core platform. These Clouds provide near out-of-the-box solutions designed specifically for these industries
Vlocity was an easy acquisition for Salesforce, filling in a lot of the gaps that Salesforce couldn’t accomodate, such as Communications, Retail & Media.
Read More: Salesforce Acquires Vlocity for $1.33B
Where are they now? Shortly after the acquisition, Salesforce announced their “Industries Cloud”, which provides their existing industry solutions, as well as the clouds acquired through the acquisition.
Acquisition Date: Oct 3, 2016
Purchase Price: $800M
One-line Pitch: Krux helps marketers, publishers and agencies drive revenue by delivering smarter content, commerce and marketing experiences.
Why Salesforce bought them: Programmatic digital advertising was becoming a hot topic in the Spring of 2016, when Forrester predicted that the market will see ‘robust’ growth – an increase of 43% YOY* from 2015-2021 (Forrester). Come October, Salesforce swept up Krux to fill this missing space on the platform. DMPs (Data Management Platforms) are all about using customer data & external sources of interaction data, in order to optimise display adverts – here’s more on what DMPs do.
Where are they now? Krux was rapidly rebranded as Salesforce DMP, and incorporated into the Marketing Cloud. Most recently, the product has been recreated as Salesforce CDP (Customer Data Platform). This aims to unify customer data from multiple sources and allows you to create fully customised customer experiences, across all parts of the organisation (Sales, Service, Marketing, Commerce etc…)
Acquisition Date: Aug 1, 2016
Purchase Price: $750M
One-line Pitch: “Quip is a living document platform that combines docs, spreadsheets, and communication to help teams get work done faster and smarter.”
Why Salesforce bought them: Standalone document processing applications are entirely outdated, but yet, user-friendly – a reality that must be acknowledged. Salesforce has always been trying to bridge that gap, by giving users the ability to store documents on Salesforce, not only making documents shareable but contextual to whichever CRM record they’re related to. However, as we know, this often creates more friction and confusion. Unfortunately, features such as Notes & Attachments, CRM content and Libraries had surpassed their prime for the modern organisation.
Collaboration is a key value of Salesforce’s, as it increases user satisfaction and dramatically helps platform adoption.
Where are they now? Quip has been a solid acquisition for Salesforce for a few reasons, the bi-direction sync to allow CRM data into a document, as well as the amount of ‘Live Apps’, where you can allow calendars, checklists, videos, and more in a Quip document.
Fast forward to 2021, and Quip has been put under the umbrella of “Salesforce Anywhere”, a new product of Salesforce that has been born out of the pandemic. It allows creater collaboration across records, allowing you to chat, and stay up to date with real-time alerts.
The real question is, how will this all work with Slack?
10. Buddy Media
Acquisition Date: Jun 4, 2012
Purchase Price: $649M
One-line Pitch: “Salesforce Buddy Media, a social media marketing platform, helps companies build connections and maintain relationships with customers.”
Why Salesforce bought them: When the social media hype was on the rise, Salesforce looked to offer social media management features to their customers. Bringing a social media tool onto the market was an interesting play for Salesforce – an extra way for Salesforce customers to pump data into their CRMs, to use across multiple business functions. This quote puts it perfectly: “people are using social networks to volunteer crucial insights about themselves, and it’s the job of any smart CRM provider to tap into that.” (Mark Miller, CRM practice lead at Digitas, AdWeek).
Where are they now? Buddy Media was paired with Radian6 to become Social Studio (part of Marketing Cloud). Social Studio also has multiple integrations back into core Salesforce, for example, to easily create cases in Service Cloud from a disgruntled customer on twitter.
This post has covered the Top 10 acquisitions (by price) across Salesforce’s history, and how they’ve been rebranded and weaved into the Salesforce Platform technically. It’s safe to say that Salesforce has been on the ball with their acquisitions, seeing a space and filling it with the best-in-class vendors on the market!