Marketing Technology Firm Zeta Global Raises $140 Million to Take on Giants Like Salesforce and Oracle

Clients include Quaker and American Airlines

Marketing cloud software is becoming a hot commodity for brands.
Zeta Global

Zeta Global—a company that helps marketers manage huge swaths of data—has raised $140 million, indicative of a growing trend of investments into marketing clouds.

Founded by John Sculley, former CEO of Apple and president of Pepsi, and David Steinberg, the New York-based firm’s software helps clients like Quaker, American Airlines and Sprint manage their data through a marketing cloud. The company owns a proprietary database of more than 350 million people with an average of 3,000 pieces of data per person.

“We’ll take 10,000 of our clients’ best customers and feed it in to our marketing cloud as an analytical module,” Steinberg told Adweek. “That module will figure out everything about them—demographic data, behavioral data and we then build psychographic grids automatically to our system.”

From there, the marketing cloud builds clusters of people that match qualities that advertisers are looking for. For example, a telecom company may be searching for new subscribers. The technology then pulls together aggregated mobile, display and social data to help marketers find those folks, target them with specific message and track what actions they take. As people click on ads, machine learning algorithms fine-tune the targeting over time and maintain databases of customers for future marketing.

“We generally help very large companies to cut their customer acquisition cost by an absolute minimum of 25 percent using our platform,” said Steinberg.

Zeta Global’s competitors include IBM, Salesforce, Adobe and Oracle, which are all increasingly making inroads into mar-tech. Just yesterday, Oracle launched a chatbot and artificial intelligence platform that lets marketers retarget folks who interact with chatbots with email marketing.

“We jokingly say that we compete with four very small companies,” Steinberg said. “We’re really focused on companies that are looking to create customers and keep the ones that they have for longer periods of time.”

With the funding, Zeta Global is looking to acquire more companies to help build out its tech stack. Since its founding in 2007, Zeta Global has acquired nine start-ups, including Acxiom Impact and eBay’s customer relationship management (CRM) business. Part of the funding will also go operations and sales and marketing.

“We’ve bought nine companies in the last nine years, it’s highly probable that we’re going to buy a 10th,” explained Steinberg. “We’re always looking to bolster our marketing cloud with great technology, great people and we’re very focused on data, analytics and machine learning.”

This is Zeta Global’s Series F round of funding, and the firm has raised a total of $250 million to date. The company says that the firm grew 50 percent in 2016 and made $300 million in revenue. CNBC reports that the new funding values the company at $1.3 billion but Steinberg declined to comment on a valuation amount.

When asked if the company is an acquisition target itself, Steinberg said: “We’re always interested if someone is interested in buying us and we think there’s an opportunity as a part of them to dramatically grow—that would be interesting to us. That being said, we’re certainly not seeking it out.”

And in terms of taking the company public, Steinberg said that the company’s been profitable but that “the IPO markets are good, not great. If they get great, we’re in a position to go public and if they get bad, we’re heavily capitalized so we can take advantage of buying some undervalued assets—I think right now we could go one way or the other.”