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Upland Software acquires BlueVenn marketing automation CDP

Upland Software buys BlueVenn customer data platform for $54.3 million in cash, adding to Upland's growing cloud platform of marketing and analytics apps.

Upland Software completed an acquisition of BlueVenn, a marketing automation-centric customer data platform, this week for $54.3 million in cash.

Upland hosts more than 20 cloud applications for a variety of work tasks, including document management, voice of the customer, email and mobile marketing, request for proposal response and CRM phone integration. BlueVenn was a highly regarded midmarket CDP, said David Raab, founder of the CDP Institute.

BlueVenn has been an Upland Software partner for seven years, and its CDP dates back to the earliest days of the software category. Upland, which is based in Austin, Texas, plans to integrate the CDP into its tools to enable users to engage customers across email, text, mobile and web channels.

"[Upland] owns a whole bunch of products, including a cluster of customer experience tools," Raab said. "BlueVenn is highly integratable. Everybody wants to be a platform, and the CDP is just table stakes."

Raab compared Upland Software's move to other recent acquisitions of what he calls "campaign CDPs," or marketing-centric CDPs, as software companies bet that marketers want integrated suites rather than to create their own collections of marketing tools, which has been customary for the past decade.  Upland and BlueVenn will likely appeal to small- and medium sized businesses, he added.

Everybody wants to be a platform, and the CDP is just table stakes.
David RaabFounder, CDP Institute

Other examples of such platform-building acquisitions include Algonomy -- a merger between personalization platform RichRelevance and the Manthan CDP -- Twilio buying Segment, and e-commerce company Bloomreach buying the Exponea CDP, Raab said.

Upland grows through acquisition

Jack McDonald, CEO of Upland Software, started his career as a mergers and acquisitions lawyer, and has built the company through an aggressive acquisitions strategy. The company had a stock IPO in 2014, and claims a million users globally.

Recent acquisitions reflect a distinct sales and marketing bent: Upland bought Localytics, a mobile apps personalization, analytics and sentiment analysis company, in February for $68.1 million; Second Street, an audience engagement platform that serves up quizzes, contests and sweepstakes in January for $30.4 million; and Altify, a revenue optimization platform that connects sales and finance departments, in October 2019 for $84 million.

The CDP market is in flux. On one side, a proliferation of CDPs from vendors large and small gives marketers and data management buyers a wide variety of customer data tools to choose from. Yet a spate of mergers makes some of those choices come with a suite, complicating the decision. However the market shakes out, Raab said, it's unlikely that it will shrink from consolidation, for now.

"There's clearly some consolidation going on as companies in the mid-tier need to partner up," Raab said. "But there's still more companies coming in and the industry's growing -- we're not going to run out of CDP vendors anytime soon."

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