Salesforce Buys Big Data Startup RelateIQ For Up To $390M

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The motto at Salesforce.com seems to be if you can’t beat them, buy them. This time the exact target of Salesforce.com’s $390 million desires is the scrappy startup RelateIQ, which uses searches of unstructured data from email, social networks, and calendars to automate large portions of the sales process.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company raised a significant $40 million round earlier this year at a roughly $250 million valuation, and has made a string of interesting hires.

Earlier this summer RelateIQ brought on Twitter’s former VP of Search. In 2013 the company brought in data scientist DJ Patil , who spent three years as the head of data science at LinkedIn before joining Greylock Partners and eventually making the jump to RelateIQ.

In a blog post on the company’s site, RelateIQ’s Chief Executive, Steve Loughlin, wrote:

Salesforce.com pioneered the shift to enterprise cloud computing, redefining modern CRM as we know it. As you know, RelateIQ is pioneering the next generation of intelligent computing through data science and machine learning. Looking ahead, salesforce.com’s acquisition of RelateIQ will extend the value of salesforce.com’s #1 CRM apps and platform with a new level of intelligence across sales, service, and marketing.

RelateIQ uses large-scale data-mining technologies to automate relationship tracking in the enterprise and CRM world. The company’s software eliminates the manual data entry required to get more insight into professional relationships.

The connection to search stems from the company’s use of algorithms to better understand actions in the workplace, capturing data from email, voice, social networks and calendars, and using natural language processing to analyze those communications.

Under the terms of the Salesforce.com deal for RelateIQ , all outstanding shares of RelateIQ capital stock will be cancelled and converted to shares of Salesforce.com common stock with a value of $350 million. Salesforce.com is also assuming the $40 million in cash that’s on the RelateIQ balance sheet from its March round of funding.

Salesforce.com is also taking on the unvested stock options and equity awards granted to RelateIQ employees. Other than RelateIQ’s employees, the winners in the potential M&A deal include RelateIQ backers like Accelerate-IT Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Felicis Ventures, News Corp., Battery Ventures, Formation 8, and Accel Partners.

The RelateIQ acquisition would be Salesforce.com’s largest deal since ExactTarget, which it bought for $2.5 billion last year.