Aprimo Acquires DoubleClick's EMS Unit
Two months after announcing that a private equity firm planned to acquire DoubleClick, the company has sold its enterprise marketing solutions (EMS) business unit, including its SmartPath and Ensemble products, to Aprimo, its top marketing resource management (MRM) competitor. Hellman & Friedman's acquisition of DoubleClick is a $1.1 billion deal expected to close in third-quarter 2005. The financial terms of the Aprimo deal--announced this week--were not disclosed. The deals are independent of one another.
This week's acquisition adds another 70 customers to Aprimo's base in verticals, including pharmaceuticals/life sciences, retail, telecommunications, financial services, manufacturing, media/entertainment, and technology. For customer companies that have deployed the SmartPath and Ensemble software, Bill Godfrey, president and CEO of Aprimo, says the company will support EMS products and their customer base "for the foreseeable future," but will also provide a packaged migration offering to the Aprimo platform. Both companies will partner to support Data Management and DARTmail customers that also are EMS customers.
DoubleClick engaged in a number of acquisitions in the past few years to help build out its marketing functionality. In November 2002 it acquired UK-based campaign management software vendor Protagona. In March 2004, DoubleClick acquired SmartPath, a privately held MRM software company. SmartPath solutions help marketers and their agencies manage the operational aspects of marketing, including strategic planning, project management, workflow, document management, and marketing financial management.
Godfrey says that with Aprimo's acquisition of the EMS unit the company is now better positioned. "In addition to fortifying and strengthening our position on the MRM front, we're also picking up a customer base and product line in the B2C campaign management market," he says. On the campaign management side, he notes that the company has started an accelerated product development timeline to release Aprimo Marketing 7.5 in the fourth quarter, which will include an offering called Aprimo Marketing Campaign Manager. "Ensemble customers will have the option to migrate to it and it will not cost them any additional license fees to migrate."
Elana Anderson, senior analyst at Forrester Research, says that there have "been rumors about this [deal] for months. When the Hellman & Friedman acquisition was announced, all indications were that DoubleClick was going to be focused on online marketing, not on the enterprise marketing software space." She describes the acquisition as "a gutsy and exciting move on Aprimo's part, and meaningful for the EMM software landscape.
"The challenge," she says, "is that it's largely an acquisition of market share, because the SmartPath and Ensemble technologies are not compatible with Aprimo's .NET direction," she says. "Delivering something by the end of the year and being competitive with the likes of Unica, SAS, and Teradata within the next eighteen months--that's a very tall order." Overall, though, Anderson classifies Aprimo's play as good for the industry: "They are trying to broaden out the platform [and] they have a strong vision."
Godfrey now sees Aprimo's biggest competitor in the MRM segment as SAP. On the campaign management side he considers competitors to be Unica and Siebel Systems. Aprimo, he says, partners with SAS Institute, Teradata, and now Epiphany. According to Anderson, though, the move will give some benefit to vendors like Unica, particularly for heavy direct marketing and consumer services industries. She also notes that Siebel and SAP may win more deals, but only with existing customers. "They, more than any of the other vendors in the enterprise space, have been focusing on building out and talking about their MRM capabilities," she says. But "those options do not make sense for clients that are not already customers."
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