IBM to acquire Unica for $480 million

IBM said August 13 it will buy marketing software firm Unica for $480 million in cash. It is the giant tech services’ third acquisition of an analytics company in the past 10 months.

The acquisition is subject to Unica shareholder approval and regulatory clearance.

In June, IBM agreed to purchase web analytics firm Coremetrics. Last October, it acquired predictive analytics company SPSS.

“This builds on our portfolio of industry software solutions to help automate, manage and help accelerate all business processes,” said Craig Hayman, general manager of IBM’s industry solutions group. “In this case, the core business process is marketing. And if you think of some of the other acquisitions that we’ve done…you can see how now we’re able, for the marketing professional, to connect that outbound marketing campaign all the way through from management to the distribution centers, if needed.”

IBM also said in May that it will acquire Sterling Commerce from AT&T. At the time, Samuel J. Palmisano, IBM CEO, said the company will spend $20 billion in acquisitions by 2015.

Waltham, MA-based Unica has more than 1,500 clients, including Best Buy, eBay and ING. Its 500 employees will be integrated into IBM’s software solution group. Earlier this year, Unica acquired Pivotal Veracity, an e-mail deliverability and optimization firm, for $17.8 million.

Yuchun Lee, Unica’s CEO, said the acquisition will help marketing professionals streamline their campaigns.

“Marketing organizations, behind the curtains, are struggling to stitch together 30, 40 different applications, homegrown solutions and Excel spreadsheets to get their job done,” Lee said. “That’s really the biggest roadblock as companies move forward through this adoption cycle. Now, I can’t see how that won’t change in the next five to 10 years. With IBM’s assets and distribution, we should be able to accelerate that change.”

At least one Unica competitor was upbeat about the acquisition, saying it will raise the bar for all marketers.

“It will continue to shine a light on the need for marketing to continue to embrace software and technology to improve its effectiveness and efficiencies in the market,” said Lisa Arthur, CMO at Aprimo.

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