The business of monitoring, measuring and understanding social media
Companies in social media analysis changed ownership 21 times in 2019—down slightly from 2018. As usual, most transactions are portfolio plays, companies adding to their technology and services capabilities, but private equity and public markets played a role again this year.
Here's a recap of the year's deals. As always, you can find the latest deals and a record of past deals in the space at SMA's acquisitions scorecard.
Coming and Going
The vast majority of companies in social media analysis are privately held, but the occasional company makes the move to the public market—or back. In 2019, we saw one of each: an IPO for Sprout Social and a private buyout for Cision.
Speaking of Cision, the perennial acquirer picked up Unmetric, plus Falcon.io and TrendKite, both of which had been acquirers in 2018. Cision cements its position atop the acquisitions leaderboard with a total of 19 acquired companies, including companies bought by companies that Cision later rolled up. The rest of the top five were quiet in 2019: Meltwater (14), Sprinklr (9), Hootsuite (8) and Twitter (8, but harder to count).
Buy and Operate
Sometimes, the exit strategy is no exit at all, as investors buy companies with the intention of operating them. ESW Capital added Synoptos to a company portfolio that already included FirstRain and Jive. Maps Group upgraded from major investor to owner of Roialty.
The development of portfolio strategies has been fascinating to watch, as the menu board of perceived synergies and all-in-one packages keeps changing. Access Intelligence filled the social media gap in its catalog for PR, marketing and communications with Pulsar. NICE took Brand Embassy to add the digital to its customer experience platform. Brandwatch bought Qriously to marry solicited market research with social media analysis.
AirPR renamed itself Onclusive and added Ozmotic to its earned media toolset. Intrado (formerly West) bought Notified and started bundling in features from other acquisitions to build a one-stop platform for PR. After buying Nuvi in 2018, Brickfish adopted the Nuvi name and expanded its social media management business into healthcare with Banyan.
Tech PickupsIf the portfolio plays are adding to the menu, these deals are focused on the tech ingredients. Conversocial opened new channels of communication with Assist. Cheetah Digital went to the zero-party data source at Wayin. Easiware got machine learning and text analytics in Dictanova.
FigBytes added online engagement and insights from Unison for its sustainability platform. Trufan picked audience segmentation and advisers from SocialRank. Mavrck got influencer search and data in GroupHigh.
Infomedia bought M-Brain's media intelligence operations, except in Finland, as part of an alliance supporting the latter's refocus on competitive and market intelligence. In a less common arrangement, Percolate joined Seismic in a better-together strategy for content management.
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