Salesforce.com (s crm) today agreed to acquire Canadian social-media monitoring company Radian6 for a total of $326 million in cash and stock, and said it will make the company’s tools and services a core part of its Sales Cloud customer-relationship management dashboard for businesses. The acquisition of Radian6 is part of Salesforce’s ongoing attempt to remake the company around the concept of social media for the enterprise, which Salesforce CEO and Chairman Mark Benioff discussed in December at GigaOM’s Net:Work conference.
Radian6 was one of the earliest providers of business-class monitoring services for tracking what customers and potential customers are saying about brands and companies on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other social media. The company, which sells its service in the form of monthly licenses just like many other software-as-a-service providers, says its platform is used by companies such as Dell, (s dell) General Electric, (s ge) Kodak (s ek) and Pepsico (s pep) to track what users and customers are saying.
Based in Fredericton, New Brunswick, the company was founded by CEO and former Alcatel executive Marcel LeBrun in 2006, and has raised more than $4 million in funding from a series of Canadian venture capital funds, including BCE Capital, Brightspark Ventures and Summerhill Ventures.
As social-media tools and services like Twitter and Facebook have become more mainstream, companies have been trying to find ways of filtering all of that content in order to make sense of it, and to spot opportunities for customer outreach, support, etc. Using tools like Radian6 — or competitors such as Sysomos, ScoutLabs and Traackr — allows enterprises to see where discussions about their products or services are flaring up, and along with tools like Klout and Peerindex, enables them to identify “influencers” when it comes to their business or marketplace.
This customer-outreach aspect of social-media monitoring makes Radian6 look like a fairly good fit with Salesforce, which has a whole suite of tools that are designed to connect companies with their customers and allow them to track behavior over time. At the Net:Work conference, Benioff said:
When I started Salesforce, I asked myself why all enterprise software wasn’t like Amazon. Now I’m asking why all enterprise software isn’t like Facebook… how can we learn from that and bring that into the enterprise?
The Salesforce founder said at the time that he had spent over half of his research and development budget at the company creating social features like the Twitter-style Chatter service, and that he planned to make those kinds of tools a core part of Salesforce in the future. In addition to Radian6, the company has also been working with — and has funded — services such as Seesmic, a social-media dashboard application founded by French entrepreneur Loic LeMeur, and social marketing company HubSpot. Other companies trying to make the enterprise more social include Jive Software, which raised $30 million in funding from Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia last year.
The Radian6 acquisition is yet another indication of how social media is making its way from the consumer space into the enterprise market. Once just a plaything for nerds, Twitter has become a real-time information network, and companies appear to be realizing that that makes it is a powerful source of customer-related data as well.