If Adobe is actually in talks to buy Marketo from the PE firm Vista Equity Partners, as Reuters reported Wednesday, then it would suddenly become a major player in the B2B marketing space.
To be clear, there’s no deal in place. The report, citing anonymous sources, said Adobe would pay “significantly more” than the $1.8 billion Vista plunked down when it bought Marketo two years ago, but such talk certainly doesn’t ensure an agreement.
And an anonymous leak could indicate dealmakers are simply trying to shake a few extra dollars out of the deal tree.
But if Adobe’s interest is real and serious, it would give Adobe new capabilities in B2B marketing and account-based marketing, said Ray Wang, Constellation Research’s founder and principal analyst.
He noted that acquiring Marketo would complement Adobe’s $1.7 billion May purchase of the ecommerce platform Magento – a platform that services both B2B and B2C enterprises.
Magento also has a large developer community, which can facilitate integration with other marketing applications. That’s a philosophy aligned with Marketo, which has focused on building out its integration capabilities.
“Our goal is not to build every application a marketer needs, but to facilitate a platform that can integrate any application the marketer needs through a robust API to 600 partners,” CEO Steve Lucas told AdExchanger last year.
Marketo has maintained that ethos.
“We want to be a one-stop destination,” said Mika Yamamoto, who became Marketo’s global president Aug. 27 and spoke to AdExchanger a day before the Reuters article broke about the company's general development priorities. “To do that, we need to make sure we have integrated experiences with all the other players in the marketing tech stack.”
Also, Adobe’s recent high-profile acquisitions – from TubeMogul in 2016 to Magento earlier this year – have pushed Adobe into media and ecommerce, which are two new disciplines for the company. So, a Marketo acquisition, which would suddenly make Adobe a major player in B2B marketing, is consistent with the enterprise giant’s recent maneuverings.
But an acquisition isn’t a done deal, and Wang notes other suitors might want Marketo’s hand.
“We do think that other bidders would most likely be SAP, who could use a strong marketing capability, or even Salesforce, if they wanted to go deeper on B2B marketing,” Wang said.
In fact, Lucas and Yamamoto are SAP alums.
Other potential acquirers could be Oracle – though it already has a B2B marketing platform from its Eloqua acquisition back in 2012.
And while IBM and Microsoft might be enticing options, Wang points out that IBM hasn’t really been on the hunt for marketing applications and purchasing B2B marketing software doesn’t align with Microsoft’s current agenda.