Adobe Acquires CMS Livefyre to Extend Marketing Cloud
San Jose, California-based Adobe has acquired Livefyre, a platform that helps brands and publishers collect, curate, and publish user-generated content, in an effort to strengthen its social offerings for brands who use its creative and marketing services.
"With this acquisition, our customers will be able to unify the best social media content with branded experiences created in Adobe Creative Cloud and community-driven content in Adobe Behance and Adobe Stock," stated Aseem Chandra, Vice President at Adobe Experience Manager and Adobe Target.
Financial details have not been disclosed but the deal is subject to several closing conditions and is expected to close in the coming months. The vendor noted both companies already serve a number of the same customers, including Tourism Australia locally and News Corp. Other Livefryre customers include CNN, Coca-Cola, Kimberly-Clark, Hallmark, National Geographic and Univision.
Raab Associates Founder and Analyst, David Raab commented on the acquisition: “That’s actually pretty forward-thinking of Adobe.” On the other hand, he also expressed his concern on how much tighter integration between the two platforms could be.
The First Dance between the Two Companies
The business between Adobe and Livefyre began during the middle of last year when Adobe agreed to be one of the several companies that participated in the series D round of funding for Livefyre, which raised $47 million for the San Francisco startup, founded in 2009 by entrepreneur Jordan Kretchmer. The content management technology provider had nearly $70 million of venture funding from four separate rounds of investment.
In September, Livefyre maintained a game-changing partnership and integration with both Adobe and Salesforce, where the companies' existing customers could leverage curated social content pulled from Livefyre’s infrastructure to improve their marketing initiatives. Just after the announcement was made, Butch Stearns and Robert Rose, Content Marketing and Customer Experience Consultant, examined the impacts of the partnerships on the market, during the CMS-Connected show, aired at the Hippo.connect event in Boston.
The companies' sales teams started working together to materialized deals. For instance, some companies such as Coca-Cola and Australia.com, which already utilized Adobe Creative Cloud Services, became able to captivate Livefyre's content streams on their websites, brands and news organizations after going through a back-end integration process.
By the end of last year, the partnership yielded the favorable results for both companies. "Their customer interest in it was through the roof, and for us it was just a great new customer stream," commented Jordan Kretchmer, CEO and founder of Livefyre.
What Does the Acquisition Mean To Livefyre?
A substantial part of Livefyre’s current success comes from its acquisition with analytics service, Realtidbits and social media aggregator, Storify in 2013.
Jordan Kretchmer, CEO and Founder of Livefyre, hopes that his company ultimately would “become the social control center for brands, in that they can find all the tools and resources to manage all of their conversations, both from a proactive to reactive approach.”
"Adobe Marketing Cloud is recognized by major industry analysts as a leading digital marketing platform for delivering, managing and measuring content across any digital touch point," Kretchmer said in a statement announcing the acquisition. "We are thrilled to join the Adobe family to give brands the ability to deliver a breadth of impactful, highly personalized digital experiences. The addition of Livefyre to Adobe Marketing Cloud will bring content capabilities to Adobe customers that are unparalleled in the industry."
Kretchmer also described his decision as “being part of one that’s best of class and has a huge market share where we could add a lot of value.”
Livefyre has claimed to have more than 650 enterprise customers, including CBS, Cisco Systems, Conde Nast, Cox Media Group, CNN, Dow Jones/WSJ, Fedex, Hallmark, Intel, Mashable, Motorola, NASCAR, the PGA Tour, and Universal Music. Livefyre competes with the likes of Echo, Chute, Disqus, and others.
What Does the Acquisition Mean To Adobe?
Adobe has been developing its Marketing Cloud with a raft of buyouts, including the acquisitions of a campaign software management provider, Neolane, in July 2013, a web software provider, Day Software, in 2010, and a marketing analytics provider, Omniture, in 2009.
In 2015, Adobe’s Marketing Cloud, globally processed 41 trillion transactions, 45 percent of analytics transactions for mobile, 1.5 trillion mobile app transactions, and managed 100 billion emails.
Adobe's revenue for its first quarter fiscal year 2016 increased 25 percent year-over-year to approx. $1.38 billion and profited 66 cents a share, even though analysts had projected a profit of 61 cents and revenue of $1.34 billion.
In March, at its annual Adobe Digital Marketing Summit in Las Vegas, the software vendor unveiled some signals of the Livefyre’s acquisition, explaining their plans for a new people-based cooperative to enable brands to share cross-device information on consumers, along with new machine learning and analytics features across the stack.
The acquisition of Livefyre could help Adobe obtain new users and offer additional attributes to existing brand customers. The vendor likely hopes this deal will enable the company to gain a competitive edge and further distinguish its Marketing Cloud offering from the likes of Salesforce, IBM, Oracle, and Pardot.
Melissa Webster, Vice President at Market Research Firm IDC, also agrees on that the deal will set Adobe apart in the market:
"This is a great move for Adobe," Webster said. "Livefyre is already an Adobe partner and they already have a big pipeline together and they have joint customer successes already. This is a super move for Adobe because it extends what Adobe is doing in the content management area into acquiring UGC and social media content, not just Twitter and Facebook, but from any other source, YouTube, Instagram, Vimeo—you name it."
"I think this deal is a differentiator for Adobe and it establishes them in a lead position in a different light from most digital marketing companies," Webster said. "And we’ll see more of Adobe playing in this digital content marketing space, I think."
Aseem Chandra believes the acquisition will allow Adobe to keep up with the high demand for digital content:
“The demand for growing content continues to increase and this is the platform that allows us to source that content in a very cost-effective way.”
Cathy McKnight, Co-founder of research firm Digital Clarity Group and one of the CMS-Connected contributors commented:
“Adobe’s chief rivals Marketo, Oracle (with Eloqua), and Salesforce all offer similar content marketing capabilities as part of their own product portfolios or through partnerships. User-generated content has a huge influence on brand-related decisions, so it makes sense that some of the most engaging content are that which customers create.” McKnight also added: “One way to do that is to include social and other user generated content—like product/service reviews on testimonial pages—into the content strategy.”
How Will Users Benefit from the Combination?
Adobe said the Livefyre platform gives brands and publishers instant access to billions of pieces of user-generated content that can be streamed in real time straight to their sites, ads, emails, TV, digital billboards, and apps.
A social media content platform, Livefyre enables brands to search Twitter, Instagram, and other networks for what’s being said about them, their products, or competitors. Then they will be able to package that up into placements like feature cards, mosaics, carousel displays, live blogs, chats, reviews, polls, and more. The product has branched out into providing different tools to enable customers to manage both ends of the conversation spectrum, from monitoring to conversion and tracking.
Above: Livefyre in action in Adobe's Experience Manager
Image Credit: Livefyre
After the Acquisition
Livefyre will be directly integrated with the rest of the Adobe team, starting with the Creative Cloud’s Assets. This means that the Livefyre platform will available to anyone who has access to that asset manager. The widely used Adobe Analytics in the Marketing Cloud will also eventually track Livefyre activity, as Livefyre works its way into full integration across Adobe’s skyline.
Adobe officials expect the Livefyre-generated content to be available across all eight digital marketing solutions: Analytics, Audience Manager, Campaign, Experience Manager, Media Optimizer, Primetime, Social, and Target.
Kretchmer added that, although Livefyre will become a full member of Adobe’s family, it will also continue as an independent platform. In fact, he said, Livefyre will continue its integration with Adobe competitor Salesforce, as well as all current platforms. Customers will be able to purchase a la carte or part of the package.
The Livefyre San Francisco team will move into the Adobe's nearby office, and its smaller New York City team will move their desks to Adobe's Times Square office. Livefyre will, however, undergo a “minor restructuring” which is often part of any acquisition to eliminate unessential positions. But the “majority” of Livefyre team, which is more than 100 employees will soon be Adobe employees.
Kretchmer, who spent the beginning of his career in broadcast and online media before establishing Livefyre six years ago, will be entitled as Senior Director and General Manager of Livefyre after the deal closes.
There also will be a brand name change although Kretchmer is unaware of what that will be yet. The new name will be decided likely within the next 3 to 6 months, but until then, Livefyre will keep its name, annotated as being “a part of Adobe Experience Manager.” Kretchmer cracked jokes about the naming convention: "So I'll be General Manager of whatever we end up calling it!"