Bizible CEO Aaron Bird hit the fundraising trail earlier this year, looking to raise some additional venture capital. The Seattle entrepreneur found a buyer instead.
Bizible, whose software helps organizations boost marketing efforts, has been acquired by marketing automation software company Marketo. Terms of the deal are not being disclosed, but Bird tells GeekWire that it was a positive outcome for the company’s investors and 120 employees.
“It makes a ton of sense,” said Bird, noting that there’s a “huge overlap” in customers who use Marketo and Bizible.
Bird and the rest of the Bizible team plan to continue with San Mateo, California-based Marketo, which will use the acquisition as a beachhead to expand in the Seattle area. Bizible will continue to operate from its headquarters in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood, just above Elysian Fields. Earlier this year, Marketo expanded in Denver with a 50,000 square-foot office with room for as many as 500 employees.
It marks the largest acquisition in Marketo’s history, both in terms of employees and acquisition price. Marketo, which employs 1,200 people, plans to publicly announce the acquisition today live on stage at the company’s Marketing Nation Summit at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.
Bird, who previously worked on the Bing team at Microsoft and served as director of software development at United Online, plans to appear on stage, wedged between appearances by Google executive Diane Greene and actor Jamie Foxx, to which Bird joked that it’s a “nice peer group.”
Previously publicly traded, Marketo was acquired in 2016 by private equity firm Vista Equity Partners.
Bizible had raised about $19 million in equity and debt financing, with backers that included Scale Venture Partners, Madrona Venture Group and Square 1 Bank. The company, whose other co-founders include former Microsoft software engineer Peter Thompson and Andy Turman, emerged from the Techstars Seattle incubator program in 2012.
Asked why the startup chose to sell, Bird said “it’s always hard to answer that question.” A year ago, Bird said he’d have possibly chosen another path, continuing to build a large independent company. Bizible and Marketo have partnered for several years, and after Marketo CEO Steve Lucas took the helm about 18 months ago, the alliance strengthened.
“It is amazing how much their vision aligns with ours,” said Bird. “When I think about the opportunity in front of us, we will get to where we want to go faster.” At 1,200 employees, Bird also noted that Marketo is still small and nimble enough that Bizible will not get lost in the clutter of the organization.
Bizible’s products help customers like ZenDesk, Act-On, Outreach, and others tie together marketing spend, both online and offline, with sales performance.
“You know the saying: ‘One half of our marketing dollars are wasted, I just don’t know what half.’ We solve that problem,” Bird said.
In addition to the acquisition, Marketo also announced today a multi-year alliance with Google Cloud to build new products for marketers that utilize artificial intelligence in new ways, boosting the effectiveness of advertising campaigns and better segmenting audiences. In a press release, Marketo’s Lucas said that the deal will “quickly put greater insights in the hands of the marketer, saving them time and energy.”
Bizible also has invested in this hot area, including a revenue planning product launched last year that uses machine learning to crunch historical data and better predict specific “what if” scenarios — like increasing marketing spend for outbound calling, or reducing event sponsorship budgets.
Moving forward, Bizible and Marketo will look to roll out new products that better help marketers.
“Together, our solutions create an industry-first platform for marketers to plan, engage, and measure by understanding what directly fuels ROI,” Lucas said in a press release. “The combined product strength of Marketo and Bizible provides all marketers everywhere enhanced visibility into every touchpoint across any channel. Our investment will accelerate Bizible’s impressive growth and provide instant and achievable benefits to our current and future customers in the enterprise and beyond.”
Another Techstars Seattle graduate, VendorHawk, was acquired last week by ServiceNow.