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Oracle, CDC Enter the Marketing Automation Market
"Oracle failed to buy Market2Lead," says MarketBright CEO.
Posted Jul 16, 2010
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The synergy of CRM and marketing automation software was a hot topic this week as two CRM leaders made questionable out-of-the-box moves. Managing marketing campaigns, nurturing leads, building and preserving customer loyalty -- all of these processes, which are crucial to any company's success, can now be done under one silo. Vendors are scrambling to make this happen in an effort to stay ahead of the competition. Two businesses known for making aggressive full-on acquisitions both dipped their toe in automation when Oracle purchased Market2Lead's intellectual property (IP) assets and CDC invested in MarketBright's software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology.

Market2Lead, a marketing automation and demand-generation software provider, has sold IP to Oracle but will not surrender its customers, and it will preserve most of its autonomy, all while gaining the respect associated with the Oracle brand.

Although Oracle's decision to purchase only Market2Lead's IP assets rather than the entire company is a questionable move, The 451 Group analyst China Martens wasn't surprised.

"They didn't acquire the customer base because they already have a number of partnerships with marketing automation players," she speculates. "Perhaps it's an asset buy. It gives them the technology to add in without actively competing with Eloqua and some of their other marketing automation partners."

Eloqua Chief Executive Officer Joe Payne says Oracle's decision not to take Market2Lead's contracts "makes you raise your eyebrows." Payne blogged about the purchase and explains in a conversation with CRM why his company is happy to now have Oracle as a direct competitor.

"We're viewing [Oracle's decision to only purchase IP] as an opportunity to go and convert [Market2Lead's] customers." Payne claims that in the hours before his interview with CRM three or four Market2Lead customers spoke to Eloqua about leaving Market2Lead. "We're going to offer them a special migration plan and a six-month money-back guarantee."

Webtrends, a web analytics service provider, switched from Market2Lead to Eloqua in February. Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, Vice President of Marketing explains why:

"Eloqua provided the support we needed to get up-and-running quickly, and the technology required to demonstrate measureable success immediately.  They address things marketers need most - measurable results and best practices."

Market2Lead Chief Executive Officer Geoff Rego isn't concerned about Oracle's reasoning. He speculates that Oracle might not have liked the terms of the contracts with Market2lead's clients but will in the future go after them and win them back.

As far as his company is concerned, Rego couldn't be happier.

"This means a lot to Market2Lead," he says. "Oracle acquires our IP and our technical resources and Market2Lead relicenses back the IP to support existing customers. One of our biggest challenges is, we have built the best marketing automation system but we never really had the resources and the muscle to win in the marketplace. [With Oracle] we do."  

MarketBright Chief Executive Officer Dom Lindars balks at the comparison between his company's recent partnership with CDC and Oracle's Market2Lead purchase. When asked why his company chose to form an agreement instead of being acquired he said:

"‘[Similar to] how Oracle failed to buy Market2Lead? We've known Market2Lead hasn't been doing well over the past couple of years. Obviously they're looking for an investment of cash. If licensing technology to Oracle does that for them then good luck. We will continue to take customers from them just like Eloqua has been."

He describes MarketBright's deal with CDC as a reseller agreement. By working with CDC he says the two companies will be able to provide a SaaS-based marketing front end to CDC's customers.

"MarketBright hasn't been looking for an acquirer. We have the opportunity to grow very rapidly and we see this as a partnership with CDC. This isn't a prelude to anything."

Jason Rushforth, President of CDC Front Office, credits MarketBright's easy-to-use solution as the reason CDC selected the company. He claims that most marketing automation software is built for information technology professionals and not for the marketers who design and execute campaigns.

CDC will be allowed a seat on the MarketBright board of directors. The two companies will have a "symbiotic business relationship where we share, articulate, and communicate go-to market strategies, pipelines, cross-sell efforts, key customers, and partners."

Martens still wonders if there might be more to the partnership.

"CDC has made no bones about acquisitions...so that they can eventually be fully subscription only. In the past they bought lots of on-premise software. These are strategic investments where they'll partner with a company, work on getting tight integrations, and maybe they're grooming them for full-out acquisition down the road."

Oracle refused to comment on the purchase.

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine.

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