Salesforce has established itself as a powerhouse in the enterprise software world. Since Salesforce was founded in 1999, constant innovation, mixed with predictive powers, has driven dominance in the product categories Salesforce operates within.
A core part of Salesforce’s mission has been its acquisitions strategy – a major driver of their impressive, world-renowned growth. Integrating these exciting ‘up-and-coming’ technologies into the Salesforce platform for every customer to benefit from, has catapulted the CRM leader’s reputation beyond being purely a CRM provider.
And when Salesforce makes acquisitions, they go big! Let’s take a look at the largest Salesforce acquisitions of all time.
List of the Largest Salesforce Acquisitions
- Slack – $27.7B
- Tableau – $15.7B
- MuleSoft – $6.5B
- Demandware – $2.8B
- ExactTarget – $2.5B
- ClickSoftware – $1.35B
- Vlocity – $1.33B
- Krux – $800M
- Quip – $750M
- Buddy Media – $649M
Acquisition Date: Dec 1, 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.”
Salesforce imagined “Social Enterprise” becoming the norm in the Salesforce ecosystem since Chatter was first released back in 2009 – the first step to test employees’ appetite for collaboration within the CRM they use day-to-day.
Fast forward to today, the world has changed; most organizations have pivoted towards remote working (or at least a hybrid model), tools like Slack are critical in keeping spontaneous conversations following between colleagues.
Where are they now? Slack innovations are picking up pace. Not even a month passed between Salesforce wrapping up the acquisition and launching Slack-First Customer 360, that we saw the first pre-built integrations between Slack and Salesforce, post-acquisition. These included ‘Digital Deal Rooms’ and ‘Daily Briefs’ for sales, ‘Swarming’ and ‘Expert Finder’ for service, and intelligent insights∂ from Marketing Cloud/Datorama/Tableau.
“We’re going to rebuild all of our technology, once again, to become Slack-first”, Marc Benioff – Chair, CEO and Founder, Salesforce, said in an interview with Yahoo Finance.
With so much promise, we wanted to hear from the Salesforce ecosystem. These Trailblazers dreamt up creative ways Slack could supercharge Salesforce operations in the future.
Acquisition Date: Jun 10, 2019
Purchase Price: $15.7B
One-line Pitch: “[Tableau] make breakthrough products that change the way people use data.”
Why Salesforce bought them: Salesforce aims 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, as Salesforce Einstein Analytics (now Tableau CRM) was regarded as a competitor of Tableau.
Salesforce still sees digital transformation as a trending topic among the companies that are yet to make the full move to the cloud; Tableau is the perfect companion to dive into data from all sources, regardless if that data is cloud-based or on-premise.
Where are they now? Since the acquisition, Tableau has remained a standalone application, whilst Einstein Analytics has been rebranded to Tableau CRM, which remains the native Business Intelligence tool for the Salesforce ecosystem.
Acquisition Date: Mar 20, 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.”
MuleSoft was a perfect acquisition for Salesforce that enabled them to deliver their vision: digital transformation to their enterprise clients.
At a high level, you can look at MuleSoft as an integration platform, that can connect anything to anything (within certain boundaries!) While the majority of companies have moved their technology stack to the cloud, other backend systems exist that need integrating back into Salesforce – and that will persist as on-premise systems – think ERPs, accounting, HR, etc…
MuleSoft was a long-term partner of Salesforce; the acquisition enabled them to offer this core part of digital transformation to their clients.
The MuleSoft product has kept its name and its core function since the acquisition. However, they have continued to expand their connectors and templates, allowing professionals to integrate to other systems as more easily.
Salesforce has recently released MuleSoft Composer – a light-weight version of MuleSoft, built on the native Salesforce platform. This enables low-code professionals, including Salesforce Admins, to build integrations with clicks not code, thanks to 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.”
Salesforce had mastered the B2B cloud software market – however, they always had a taste for the B2C market. Mix in their growing desire to infiltrate the ‘front-end’ operations, and you can clearly see why e-commerce was on their shopping list. E-commrce was a big missing piece of the B2C-customer-engagement-puzzle.
Traditionally, CRM wasn’t a priority for retailers – especially not traditional ‘brick and mortor’ enterprises. Salesforce spotted the future need: for 1-to-1 shopping experiences, driven by personalization whether on the shop floor, or online.
Demandware had capitalized on a data-driven world with high consumer expectations. The price Salesforce paid, my guess, was 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 wanted an end to disparate data sources. Commerce Cloud offers ‘omnichannel commerce’ – a seamless retail experience across the growing number of digital and physical engagement channels, including web, social, mobile, in-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.”
After conquering the sales and service departments, Salesforce looked to expand in the next logical step: Marketing.
ExactTarget had been running 13 years, pre-acquisition, and a 2000-strong organization when they joined the Salesforce family. ExactTarget was the robust foundation Salesforce was seeking as the backbone for their enterprise Marketing suite.
As a bonus, ExactTarget had acquired Pardot 6 months previously. ExactTarget were able to position themselves as both a strong B2B and B2C marketing solution to any prospect company that approached them. 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).
Marketing Cloud was founded because of ExactTarget’s core Marketing Automation capabilities – especially email marketing. Marketing Cloud, now split into multiple (15+?) products, is a ‘beast’ – on a mission to deliver all-encompassing, multichannel functionality. Marketers can cover email, SMS, social, digital advertising, and more with Marketing Cloud. The user experience is engaging and a ‘wow’ factor, particularly with Journey Builder and Einstein Smart Splits, which have been designed to visualize marketing that would have otherwise existed in the shadows.
What about Pardot (the company that was acquired, by the acquired)? Salesforce was pleased to have Pardot in their offering and gained good traction from day one. 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.
However, little new was done, existing as a standalone platform. That’s until Pardot began transitioning onto the Salesforce, piece-by-piece…
While Pardot still retains its name, many parts now exist on the Salesforce platform. For example, the Pardot Lightning App (which is an app within Salesforce Lightning), Connected Campaigns, marketing asset sync, Engagement History, and more (here’s a list).
Salesforce shut down all of Pardot’s other CRM connectors in mid-2017 in a tactful move to focus development on Salesforce CRM.
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Acquisition Date: Aug 7, 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.”
ClickSoftware were in the market for many years (since 1997) noted as a pioneer in the field service space. The ClickSoftware team was 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 a ‘when’!
Salesforce Field Service Lightning made a big entrance on to the market as a Salesforce offering (it had existed on the market since 2016).
Where are they now? The Field Service Lightning Keynote at Dreamforce ‘19 hinted that since the acquisition, ‘major investments’ had been made in advanced scheduling and location technology.
Salesforce capitalized during the COVID-19 pandemic because FSL offered the infrastructure for organizations to make decisions ‘on-the-fly’, especially when transitioning to no-contact service models. Even for workforces based in the office, Work.com tapped into Field Service for Contract Tracing and the Shift Scheduling app.
Now renamed to the catchier ‘Salesforce Field Service’, a constant stream of new updates make this the go-to option for organizations with mobile workforces.
One recent, notable new Field Service feature is Visual Remote Assistant, a two-way video that lets both agents and customers collaborate over video in real-time to troubleshoot issues. We expect a lot more to come!
Acquisition Date: Feb 26, 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 many years. Salesforce had built Financial Services Cloud, Health Cloud on their core platform, and organized the bulk of their consulting partners into industry niches. The ‘cloud’ product and expertise aim to provide an industry-specific, out-of-the-box solution (with third-party expertise on-hand!)
Vlocity was an obvious acquisition for Salesforce. Vlocity provided templates that filled in the same major industry gaps that Salesforce couldn’t accommodate. Communications, Media, Utilities, and others were their target.
Where are they now? Shortly after the acquisition, Salesforce announced ‘Industries Cloud’ – now ‘Salesforce Industries. This product line includes the existing industry solutions, revamped, to become Media Cloud, Communications Cloud, Utilities Cloud, and Public Sector solutions which were augmented by other acquisitions. Salesforce Industries customers can benefit from OmniStudio. Let’s not forget that it’s not just the product/s that feed into ‘Salesforce Industries’; professional services acquisitions, namely Acumen, bolstered this offering.
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.
Programmatic digital advertising was becoming a hot topic in Spring 2016. Forrester predicted that the market would see ‘robust’ growth, an increase of 43% YOY* from 2015-2021. Come October, Salesforce swept up Krux to fill a missing space on the platform. DMPs (Data Management Platforms) are all about using customer data and external sources of interaction data, in order to optimize display adverts.
Where are they now? Krux was rapidly rebranded as Salesforce DMP, and incorporated into the Marketing Cloud. Salesforce DMP still exists, however, industry trends have favored CDPs (Customer Data Platform). Salesforce CDP is now the poster-child, unifying customer data from multiple sources and allowing you to create a fully customized customer experience.
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.”
Standalone document processing applications are entirely outdated – but are user-friendly, a reality we can’t ignore. Salesforce has endeavored to bridge that gap; Salesforce users have always been able to store documents within Salesforce. The hope was to not only make documents shareable, but also contextual to their related CRM record.
As we know, documents on Salesforce records often creates more friction and confusion, than solution. Standard functionality such as Notes & Attachments (now retired), CRM content, Libraries, and File, have surpassed their prime.
Collaboration is a value Salesforce take seriously (note: #1, the Slack acquisition). These are tactics to increase user adoption, putting users working in an environment they’re familiar with (documents, spreadsheets, etc).
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. Quip was placed under the “Salesforce Anywhere” label, a new product that was was born from the pandemic. Its aims were greater collaboration across records, allowing users to chat with each other, and stay up to date with real-time alerts. As we all know – this runs parallels with Slack-first 360. So the real question is, how will Quip work alongside 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.”
When social media was taken seriously as a marketing channel for organizations, Salesforce wanted to offer social media management features. At the time, a social media tool was an interesting play for Salesforce. However, behind the scenes (and although many people didn’t realize this) social media interactions were an additional way for Salesforce customers to connect with their customers, across multiple business functions (think how novel service on social media was back then!).
This quote says 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 (Marketing Cloud add-on). Social Studio integrated back into the core Salesforce platform, for example, social interaction can trigger a case to be created in Service Cloud (from a disgruntled customer on Twitter!)
We’ve given you a glimpse into the world of Salesforce acquisitions, showcasing the ten biggest Salesforce acquisitions of all time. Personally, I find it’s fascinating how these companies are either rebranded or are weaved into the Salesforce platform (technically).
Salesforce has been on the ball with their acquisitions – they see a space and fill it with a best-in-class solution!
Which of these Salesforce acquisitions gets your vote? Which do you get value out of each day?