Salesforce.com today announced plans to pay as much as $326 million for Radian6, a Canadian upstart whose tools help monitor discussions on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social media channels. It is a huge payout for a small company, and it will likely cause a few ripples in Bellevue where rival Visible Technologies is based.

Radian6 — backed by Summerhill Ventures, BDC and Brightspark with more than $4 million — didn’t have quite the war chest of Visible.

Last year, Visible pulled in a massive $22 million venture round from the likes of Ignition Partners, Investor Growth Capital, Centurion Holdings, In-Q-Tel and WPP. That brought total funding to about $37 million.

There’s been other consolidation in the social media monitoring industry in recent months, including Lithium’s purchase of Scout Labs for a reported purchase price of $20 million last year.

Those deals might spark some more activity, pushing companies like Visible and BuzzLogic into play.

Obviously, it will take a very large acquisition for Visible to match the multiple that Salesforce.com just paid for Radian6.

And Visible has seen some turnover at the company in recent months, including the departure of CEO Dan Vetras. Last October, the company cut its staff and replaced Vetras with First Data and Intelligent Results veteran Kelly Pennock. That followed a revamp of the original product offering, which some industry pundits said was very good, but also very expensive.

We’ve got an email into Visible, and we’ll update the post if we hear anything interesting.

UPDATE: Debbie DeGabrielle, chief marketing officer of Visible Technologies, tells GeekWire via email that the acquisition of Radian6 “demonstrates health and vitality of the market and indicates enormous potential for growth.” She also noted that it is a good indication of where valuations are going in the social media monitoring market.

“Congrats to Radian6. They have worked hard and done a good job and this acquisition is a recognition for that,” she said.

John Cook is co-founder of GeekWire. Follow on Twitter: @geekwirenews and Facebook.

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