Zeta Interactive sets sights on marketing cloud giants with ebay CRM acquisition

Vendor expands its customer lifecycle marketing and management capabilities by acquiring the CRM components of ebay Enterprises

Zeta Interactive, the US-based email marketing player founded by ex-Apple CEO, John Sculley, is looking to take on marketing cloud giants such as Apple, Oracle and Salesforce after picking up the customer relationship management division of eBay Enterprise.

The deal is part of a wider US$925 million sale of eBay’s entire marketing solutions division (Enterprise), first announced in July and completed in November, to a private equity consortium led by Permira Funds and Banneker Partners. Marketing capabilities under the Enterprise umbrella include affiliate network, display advertising, search marketing, social, data and analytics and agency services.

The eBay Enterprise sell-off also sees its ecommerce software offering, Magento, spun out into a standalone company backed by equity investors, Permira and Sterling Capital. eBay acquired the Magento platform in 2011, the same year it also picked up GSI Commerce for approximately $2.4bn, and established the Enterprise solutions business.

Zeta’s CRM acquisition is being supported by its recently announced US$125 million fundraising round in July, and will further the vendor’s strategy to extend and enhance its customer lifecycle marketing platform through organic moves and targeted acquisitions.

“Combining the power of eBay Enterprise’s CRM businesses with Zeta's highly rated people-based marketing platform is a game changer in the marketplace,” said Zeta CEO and co-founder, David A. Steinberg, in a statement.

eBay Enterprise’s CRM division encompasses several data-driven marketing stack components, an enterprise-grade email service platform, data management product and an automated attribution solution. All of these will be now integrated into Zeta’s platform.

Under the deal, Zeta retains all CRM division offices in the US, UK and Singapore, and also picks up eBay Enterprise’s former head of CRM, Regina Gray, as its new senior vice-president.

“Together, we have an unmatched set of assets and capabilities to help leading brands improve their return on marketing spend across the entire customer journey, both cross-channel and cross-device,” Steinberg claimed.

Sculley said the deal reflected the “tremendous” momentum already behind the Zeta business in the marketplace.

“David and his team have done an outstanding job of acquiring, integrating and scaling businesses that are more valuable in the Zeta platform than for a different owner,” he commented. “We are delighted to add the talented team and exceptional client base of the CRM division to Zeta.”

Sculley also told Forbes the deal took it one step closer to realising its vision as the largest customer lifecycle management platform and opened up the ability to tackle larger clients.

Zeta Interactive was launched in 2007 by Steinberg and Sculley and provides multi-channel campaign and database management, audience targeting and automated landing page tools based on big data and analytics. The company has 600 employees worldwide with offices in the US, UK and India and reported an annual revenue of US$168m in 2014. Customers include Ford, Chase, British Airways, Ikea, Hilton Worldwide, Sony Pictures and Estee Lauder.

According to Gartner’s most recent Magic Quadrant for Multichannel Campaign Management, the Zeta platform enables marketers to query, segment and use information to build customer relationships, and to measure and optimise continuously. It also noted a number of new capabilities coming into the platform including open APIs, SMS integration into campaign workflows, an expansion of real-time Web personalisation and improved data modelling.

However, the research group said Zeta will need to iron out some complexities within the platform, as well as differentiate itself better in a crowded market by providing specialised support and managed services that the larger vendors, such as IBM, Salesforce and Oracle, cannot scale to offer.

More on how brands are tackling customer lifecycle marketing:

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