Salesforce.com may be close to acquiring Buddy Media in the largest social media marketing acquisition to date, according to sources close to the company. AllThingsD reported earlier today that Salesforce is getting close to a deal for more than $800 million, and we’d heard acquisition rumors earlier this week too, though Buddy Media declined to comment. Now our sources say the price may be considerably higher depending on the equity component of the deal. That may put it more in the neighborhood of $1 billion.
If the acquisition happens in that price range, the deal would would be an impressive multiple given Buddy’s current revenue run rate. As of last year, Buddy was projecting a run rate of $100 million for 2012 and $180 million for 2013, we hear. That’s a much more generous multiple than the 3x one that Vitrue got in its $300 million acquisition by Oracle.
The difference? Supposedly that Buddy has built more of a technology platform, whereas Vitrue’s model is closer to that of an ad agency. Buddy also has an impressive client list, saying it works with eight of the world’s top 10 brands. CEO Michael Lazerow previously told us that revenue grew 2.5x in 2011 and that the company expanded from 100 to 225 employees in that period.
AllThingsD says that Facebook or an ad holding company like WPP (a Buddy investor) seemed like possible acquirers. But as the Vitrue acquisition illustrated, it’s not just the obvious companies that are looking to get more involved in social media. In fact, Salesforce purchased social listening platform Radian6 last year.
Buddy has raised $90 million in funding from SoftBank Capital, Greycroft Partners, Institutional Venture Partners, European Founders Fund, Bay Partners, WPP, GGV Capital, Insight Venture Partners, and a number of high-profile angels including Peter Thiel and Mark Pincus.
And here’s an interesting connection: Buddy recently hired former Salesforce executive Susan St. Ledger as its new president.