ESPs and consolidation


Earlier this week Bloomberg news reported that an anonymous source  told them Verizon was looking to acquire or investigate a partnership with AOL. It didn’t take long for the Verizon CEO to quash the acquisition rumors. Acquisitions and partnerships have always been around in technology, this is nothing new. But it made me think a little bit about the acquisitions and mergers in the ESP space.
The last 2 years have seen unexpected purchases of ESPs. Oracle bought Eloqua. Deluxe acquired Vertical Response. IBM has acquired a number of players in the email space, including parts of, SilverPop and Pivotal Veracity. eBay acquired e-Dialog. Salesforce acquired ExactTarget. Big companies seem to use the acquisition process to acquire the technology needed to send mail to and on behalf of their customers.
I’ve heard some people claim this is the beginning of the end of the stand alone ESP. I disagree. I think there is enough market demand to support stand alone ESPs. But the market is crowded and there are a lot of ESPs out there. There will be some consolidation. Some ESPs will be bought, either for their technology or their staff. Some ESPs will change and add more features. Some big companies will decide to install big appliances to run their own marketing in house.
Things will change but that’s what happen as a market matures. And the ESP market is maturing.
Who do you think will be bought next?

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  • I think the SendGrid will be next up. Huge growth the past few years, awesome platform, and focused direction.

  • Off the top of my brain, Oracle also bought Responsys and IBM bought Unica which had just acquired Pivotal Veracity, so they weren’t acquired by IBM directly.
    StrongView and SendGrid would probably be the 2 at the top of my list, but another question is who acquires them?
    SAP has been looking for quite a while and I’m not sure I’d rule out Microsoft either. Regardless, Laura is right that there will certainly be more to come.

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