Outreach, just a couple months removed from a massive $65 million funding round, has made the first acquisition in its history.
The Seattle-based sales automation company has acquired Sales Hacker, a media company focused on sales professionals that runs conferences and produces podcasts, webinars and other original content.
In an interview with GeekWire, Outreach CEO Manny Medina and Sales Hacker Founder and CEO Max Altschuler said Sales Hacker will continue to be run independently, and it won’t give Outreach any special privileges in its coverage or access to any of its customer information. For Outreach, the deal is about increasing awareness, not just for its own work but for the broader field of sales engagement and the quest to help sales people become more efficient.
Medina compared the deal to LinkedIn’s 2015 acquisition of Lynda.com for $1.5 billion, elevating the profile of the category for customers and potential customers.
“They don’t know we exist as category; they don’t know that sales engagement is a solution,” Medina says. “The main limiter to growth for us is actual knowledge, understanding there is a solution out there for their pain.”
The two companies did not release terms of the acquisition. In addition to leading Sales Hacker, Altschuler will step into the role of vice president of marketing for Outreach, filling a position vacated by Katie Doyle earlier this year. Sales Hacker’s all-remote staff of eight will remain on board following the acquisition.
Medina said Outreach was not looking to acquire a company, nor did it want specifically to add a media business. Altschuler was an early angel investor in Outreach, so he already understood the business.
Medina and Altschuler reconnected at Outreach’s annual customer conference Unleash in May, and a light bulb went off.
“Max has this incredible asset, and every year he needs to figure out a growth plan for it, and we have an incredible need to educate the community that sales engagement exists,” Medina said. “So we came together almost magically when we sat down to map out what our problems were, what his problems were, we realized ‘hey we have a lot of alignment here.'”
It’s been a busy summer for Outreach, as the company recently scooped up a new headquarters office space in Seattle that used to be home to Big Fish Games. Outreach will move into the space, which has room for 350 people, in November.
Medina sees the deal as a rising-tide-lifts-all-boats situation. He acknowledged that by bringing more awareness to the category, he is also shining a spotlight on competitors like Inside Sales and SalesLoft. But, Medina felt that someone would do something like this, so as the self-proclaimed category pioneer, it made sense for Outreach to jump in.
“Given that we are the biggest, we have the most funding, we are the fastest growing, it’s kind of like our responsibility to make sure that the industry continues to grow and the category continues to grow,” Medina said.
For Sales Hacker, not much will change. The company will have the backing of Outreach, so it will cease running sponsored content from customers like Microsoft, Adobe, Salesforce and others. But it will find new ways to work with those companies going forward.
Sales Hacker sports 150,000 unique blog visitors each month. It runs several large sales conferences per year, while leading several webinars per week and facilitating meetups in more than 30 cities every year.
Altschuler says the acquisition will let Sales Hacker focus on higher quality content that is popular with its audience. While the two companies will remain separate, Sales Hacker can lean on Outreach personnel to learn what people in the industry are talking about.
“That kind of intel will allow us to create content that is unbiased, but a perfect fit for the audience in the sales engagement space. I think the key is just doing things higher quality, doing things more targeted and getting a better read and pulse on what people want,” Altschuler said.
Outreach uses machine learning to help customers like Cloudera, Adobe, Microsoft, DocuSign, and others automate and streamline communication with sales prospects. It offers one system to track all touch points, from phone calls to emails to LinkedIn messages. The software integrates with existing tools like Salesforce and Gmail.
The company tracks sales statistics, helps teams collaborate and sends automated alerts to make sure prospective buyers don’t slip through the cracks. The idea is to increase the volume of sales meetings and create a more efficient workflow for salespeople.