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Portrait acquires Million Handshakes

Portrait Software, a provider of customer interaction optimization software, has acquired Million Handshakes, an outbound campaign management and dialog marketing company. Details for the deal were undisclosed.

The two companies, which will be combined under the Portrait name, will offer in-bound and out-bound customer interaction services across a variety of channels and over the entire customer lifecycle. Million Handshakes also brings software as a service (SaaS) capabilities to Portrait.

“With this acquisition, Portrait can feed intelligence into outbound customer contacts by selecting just the right customers for a certain product, and then delivering the contact with outbound marketing,” said Mark Smith, EVP of Portrait Software. “Our combined offering can now deliver ongoing two-way communication with the customer, to build up an intelligent dialogue with the customer.”

Portrait and Oslo, Norway-based Million Handshakes have been working in partnership for the last six months and have already integrated Million Handshakes’ products with Portrait analytics, which help guide customer interactions in real time.

Together, the two companies will serve 300 clients, including Nationwide Building Society, Merrill Lynch and T-Mobile. Smith said there was little client overlap: Portrait’s customer base is in first-tier financial services companies, while Million Handshakes tends to work more with mid-market companies and has a strong base in publishing.

“The technology is only one piece of the acquisition,” said Smith. “Million Handshakes gives us access to a new market opportunity. We have a lot to gain by opening up to mid-market clients. Publishing is an interesting new market for us, and the company also has some good strong marketing service provider partners, which is a key area of expansion for Portrait.”

Smith went on to explain that marketing has emerged as a key growth area for Portrait because it is a sector that analysts predict will expand.

“Obviously we’re interested and want to be in an area where people are spending money, even in these tough economic times,” he pointed out. “In tough markets, the key thing is to retain the customers you already have and get the most out of them. We want to focus more on growth markets around marketing technology and customer interaction technology.”

Though Million Handshakes will take on the Portrait name, Smith said the company plans on letting clients know that the products are based on Million Handshakes technology, rather than being new or untested developments.

Complete integration of the two companies should be completed in April of this year, and financial transactions should close this week. Both companies will retain their offices, and Portrait plans to expand its Boston-based sales force. Million Handshakes’ technology center will remain in Oslo.

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