Why Did Salesforce.com Buy Radian6?

Salesforce.com buys Radian6By now, you probably know that Salesforce.com is buying Radian6 for a total of $326 Million.  On the heels of Salesforce.com’s investments in HubSpot and Seesmic, I’m not at all surprised at this move. HubSpot’s unique lead generation and engagement platform is great for pushing content, while Seesmic is a cool self-service social network management tool. Radian6 can add some amazing analytical value to the mix.

But Salesforce.com? SFDC’s client list is a who’s who of global businesses with one thing in common: they are either commercial product and service companies or the commercial divisions of very large consumer-oriented businesses like Dell and NBC. Yet, social platforms have largely been considered consumer media. So does this investment make sense for SFDC?

Of course it does.

Remember that Salesforce.com is not a trend follower. It is a vision maker. The company helped create the Software-as-a-Service meme, as well as other terms like Cloud Services, which seemed to pop up on their own. They didn’t. It took companies like SFDC to help define and market these terms.

Until now, any buzz monitoring platform could be seen as a useful social analysis tool or a gimmicky waste of time and money for marketers trying to justify their embrace of a fad, even the good ones like Radian6.

As someone who has experience dealing with both, I find this very interesting for several reasons:

  • Salesforce has not bought an email service provider, and I always figured that was because it enjoys strong relationships and technical integration with several ESPs, and preferred not to jeopardize those.
  • Salesforce may have had the opportunity to enjoy similar partnerships with various social media monitoring and engagement platforms, but has obviously decided that for this model, direct ownership is more important than partnerships.
  • Radian6 will be a very powerful tool for tracking the online buzz behavior of business contacts already stored in Salesforce, and it is obviously true that business users use social tools as well.
  • It makes me wonder if Salesforce has something planned for a consumer-oriented CRM product or service.

I believe this represents a major milestone in social marketing. With this acquisition, SFDC is spending the considerable value of their brand to legitimize a current business trend, changing everything. Thoughts?


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