M&A Buzz Shifts to Social Management Players

Are Wildfire and Hearsay Social ripe for the taking?

While the media world has gawked at Facebook’s stock price, big enterprise IT companies have been quietly snapping up a hot commodity: social marketing management firms.

Two weeks ago, Oracle said it was acquiring Vitrue, and last week All Things D reported that Salesforce plans to purchase Buddy Media for $800 million. “As enterprises are becoming more social, the idea of creating an actual social media tech stack is not just compelling, it’s imperative,” said Melissa Parrish, a senior analyst at Forrester Research.

Whether companies like IBM and SAP will pursue social management acquisitions remains to be seen, but two potential targets are in clear view. Wildfire claims to be the largest company in the space, with 15,000-plus customers and 350 employees. But Hearsay Social, with a staff of 80, has raised more money—$21 million to Wildfire’s $14 million as of March.

But neither Wildfire nor Hearsay Social will likely be on the auction block soon. Both see independence as an opportunity to win clients. Wildfire founder and CEO Victoria Ransom wouldn’t comment on any possible acquisition talks but said in an email that she expects more brands to sign on given their size in the space.

Hearsay Social CEO and co-founder Clara Shih is so committed to remaining independent that she said as much in an email to employees after the Oracle-Vitrue announcement, and then again after the Salesforce-Buddy Media deal rumor broke.

“These Fortune 500 companies have been burned before when they’ve worked with vendors that sold out,” she said. “I think more than ever, they need to place their bets on a company that’s going to be around.” 

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