Top 10 social media acquisitions of 2014

by Jason Keath on Jan 26, 2015
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top-social-media-acquisitions-2014

2014 has come and gone, which means quite a few social media companies have done the same.

Twitter defended last years leader of acquisitions title with, yet again, 10 notable acquisitions.

The leaders are Twitter with 10 acquisitions, Facebook with 7, Yahoo at 5, LinkedIn 3, Hootsuite 3, and Sprinklr, also with 3.

Simply listing the number of acquisitions is not a great metric, but it is interesting form afar and can reveal some trends.

social-media-acqisitions-socialfresh

A few of the clear trends we can see when charting total acquisitions over the last 4 years:

  • Twitter is accelerating the pick up of small shop, especially mobile, ad, and TV based companies
  • Facebook is consistently looking for big acquisitions and a few smaller technology pickups
  • Yahoo got more into social after Marissa Mayer arrived
  • LinkedIn, slow and steady
  • Salesforce and Oracle both had big years where they acquired what they needed for social and stopped.
  • Google’s interest in social seems to have slowed

Our list below outlines who we think were the most significant acquisitions in 2014, by how they will impact the industry, social network users, and the businesses that support them.

Twitter continued their march into TV and analytics acquisitions, taking their effort global. They also made a couple clear attempts to improve their Android phone competency.

Facebook made the biggest splashes this year with the acquisitions of 7 companies, most notable being WhatsApp, and the not-so-social media company, Oculus.

Yahoo continues to pick off a few social companies to support their content efforts. LinkedIn made a few deliberate moves. While Hootsuite and Sprinklr both made big pushes into the all-in-one social marketing software space.

This is our 4th year pulling together this list. Here are the lists from 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Top 10 Social Media Acquisitions of 2014

1. WhatsApp acquired by Facebook 

Feb. 19 (mobile messaging)

logo-text-ver-color

Facebook made what is easily the smartest social media acquisition when they picked up Instagram in 2012. WhatsApp shows that this was not a fluke.

The WhatsApp acquisition came after Facebook was denied SnapChat in late 2013. This could have been a blessing or Facebook may have intended to go after both messaging services from the get go.

What they get from WhatsApp is huge. With over 700 million users (as of Jan. 2015), Whatsapp is the rare platform that fails to look tiny next to Facebook’s 1.35 billion monthly active users (as of Jan. 2015).

WhatsApp is not only much larger than SnapChat, but their audience is much more international. Where Facebook is seeing their most growth, outside the US.

This acquisition gives Facebook three of the world’s largest social platforms, all at or potentially headed to 1 billion users each.

2. Dachis Group acquired by Sprinklr

Feb 19 (agency and social ads)

dachisgroup_logo

Dachis Group has appeared on our list before, as the acquirer of other social companies. Sprinklr and Dachis together creates a very large and capable analytics and strategy company.

Their goal is to become a one stop shop for big brands of the world that need an edge in social, and they make a good argument for that.

They also acquired a few more of those big brands as clients with this addition.

What will be interesting is how much of this new Sprinklr will be a services/agency style company, or if it is all headed toward an all-in-one platform to compete with Oracle, Salesforce, and others.

Another item in the top ten, should give us a hint.

3. Klout acquired by Lithium Technologies

Mar. 25 (influence measurement)

klout-logo

Klout is one of the most loved and hated children in the social media world. They have achieved scale, large brand recognition, and locked up a measurement niche in the social marketing landscape.

Lithium gets some interesting things when they buy Klout.

They get an engineering team that was built to be able to make sense out of deep social media data points. And a team that needed to be able to hypothesis how psychology fits in to that equation.

They get a technology and algorithm that it would take them 1-2 years to build.

They get a highly recognized brand name. They get a revenue stream from brands interested in social influencers.

And they get data. A service that millions of social accounts are connected to.

4. Cision and Vocus merge

June 3 (PR and influencer marketing software)

CisionVocus

Cision and Vocus merging brings together two giants in the PR software space. Both have giant lists of bloggers and journalists for PR firms looking to pitch. And both were trying to increase their technological offerings, as well as their social media capabilities.

The new combined company will have a healthy base of PR subscription customers and plenty of opportunities to increase their digital marketing tools. Expect these tools to lean heavily on influencer marketing and social media.

5. TBG Digital acquired by Sprinklr

Aug. 14 (social ads)

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TBG has been one of the biggest Facebook advertising companies in the world for some time. And social ads on all platforms more recently.

This acquisition by Sprinklr gives them a ton of relationships with clients and platforms, as well as even more big name clients to add on to their other big acquisition of the year.

With TBG, Sprinklr clearly wants to connect disparate pieces of the enterprise social landscape. I expect the new Sprinklr, in 2015, will focus on building out the ideal enterprise social marketing suite, while backing up that technology platform with strategists and community managers on their service side.

Their opportunities to connect paid, earned and owned could become a strong competitive advantage.

6. UberVU acquired by Hootsuite

Jan. 22 (social analytics)

ubervu logo

UberVU is a great social analytics and monitoring company. They were creating software that I had not seen from anyone else. And they had a large base of big brand clients.

This acquisition gives Hootsuite a real opportunity to begin to compete with the larger social software suites.

As the most popular social publishing platform, Hootsuite has no want for user counts or brand awareness.

But what they do want, and a big reason for this purchase, is credibility as more than a Twitter tool. Which they are. UberVU allows Hootsuite to offer a top tier analytics and monitoring solution to their massive user base.

I would not be surprised to see another large acquisition from Hootsuite in 2015.

7. Spredfast and Mass Relevance merge

April 2 (social media agencies, dashboard)

spredfast-mass-relevance

This is not a merger of two companies that do the same thing. Spredfast focuses on social media management and analytics. While Mass Relevance is a Twitter focused tool for mainly TV clients, helping CNN and American Idol curate and display Twitter content on the air.

With Mass Relevance, the new combined company gets access to a large base of entertainment brands.

8. Oculus acquired by Facebook

Mar. 25 (virtual reality headset)

oculus

We won’t really know how big Facebook’s acquisition of leader virtual reality technology, Oculus Rift, is for a few years.

Oculus has made several technological advances in virtual reality, that have given the industry as a whole new life recently.

But what does that have to do with Facebook? Only Zuck knows.

Will Facebook acquire SecondLife and have us all walking around in a virtual news feed?

Likely not.

Facebook acquired technology and hardware with Oculus. A technology that could have huge implications on our lives in 5-10 years. Or… that might be the next Google Glass or Segway.

It’s hard to put a ranking on this one, but time will tell.

9. VisualGraph acquired by Pinterest

Jan. 6 (visual search)

visual graph

As Pinterest continues their steady charge to becoming a highly relevant social network for many businesses, one challenge has remained steady. Namely, how to learn more about their users on a social network where words are not the focus.

The VisualGraph acquisition was not a massive one, but it gives them engineers and some existing technology ready-made for overcoming this challenge.

VisualGraph will help Pinterest improve their attempts at visual search. The more they can understand the nuance about the images on their site, they more they understand their users.

The goal is simple, turn images into words. With those words they can improve their user experience, and improve their advertiser experience.

10. Newsle acquired by Linkedin

July 14 (content curation)

newsle

LinkedIn made a major change in 2014. They added their LinkedIn Publishing platform, allowing their users to essentially blog on the platform. This made our Top Social Media Tools of 2014 list.

I mention this, because I think the acquisition of Newsle is an effort to go after the same problem. LinkedIn wants users to return to their site more often, even when they aren’t looking for a job.

Newsle is a tool that curates stories about your friends when they are in the news. If your best friend gets quoted in the NY Times or a old coworker starts a new company, Newsle goes out and finds those stories and brings them back to you in an email.

Now if all your friends are thought leaders and bloggers (like myself and many marketers), this becomes less of quality curation and somewhat of just another newsfeed.

However for most people, LinkedIn is betting, this type of news is highly relevant. Learning more about when your friends are being talked about online could be a very useful piece of content in the fight for more of your attention.

All Social Media Acquisitions 2014

Below is the complete list of all the social media acquisitions from 2014. The above Top 10 List acquisitions are included below, all in chronological order.

  1. Little Eye Labs acquired by Facebook – Jan. 7 (Android app performance)
  2. VisualGraph acquired by Pinterest – Jan. 6 (visual search)
  3. Aviate acquired by Yahoo – Jan. 7 (Android app performance)
  4. Branch acquired by Facebook – Jan. 13 (social network)
  5. Sparq acquired by Yahoo – Jan. 21 (mobile marketing)
  6. ZipDial acquired by Twitter – Jan. 21 (mobile analytics)
  7. ConnectAround acquired by Tapesty – Jan. 22 (social connecting)
  8. UberVU acquired by Hootsuite – Jan. 22 (social analytics)
  9. Dijit acquired by Viggle – Jan. 29 (TV guide app)
  10. Bright.com acquired by LinkedIn – Feb. 6 (job search)
  11. Wander acquired by Yahoo – Feb. 11 (social diary)
  12. WhatsApp acquired by Facebook – Feb. 19 (mobile messaging)
  13. Dachis Group acquired by Sprinklr – Feb 19 (agency and social ads)
  14. Solariat acquired by Genesys  – March 18 (Social listening and analytics)
  15. Klout acquired by Lithium Technologies – Mar. 25 (influence measurement)
  16. Oculus acquired by Facebook – Mar. 25 (virtual reality headset)
  17. SecondSync acquired by Twitter – April 1 (social TV analytics)
  18. Spredfast and Mass Relevance merge – April 2 (social media agencies, dashboard)
  19. Cover acquired by Twitter – Apr. 7 (Android app insights)
  20. Silverpop acquired by IBM – April 10 (email and marketing automation)
  21. Adly and Nestivity Merge – April 29 (social advertising)
  22. Gnip acquired by Twitter – April 15 (social data)
  23. Polygraph Media acquires Offergraph – Apr. 20 (predictive marketing)
  24. ProtoGeo Oy acquired by Facebook – Apr. 24 (fitness tracking)
  25. Awe.sm acquired by Unified – May 1 (Social media measurement)
  26. Blink acquired by Yahoo – May 14 (mobile messaging)
  27. Social Insider acquired by Socialbakers – May 19 (social monitoring)
  28. Namo Media acquired by Twitter – June 5 (native ads, mobile)
  29. Perfect Audience acquired by Marin Software June 2 (social retargeting ads)
  30. Cision and Vocus merge – June 3 (PR and influencer marketing software)
  31. TapCommerce acquired by Twitter – June 5 (native ads, app installs)
  32. Socialbakers acquires Edgerank Checker – June 10 (facebook analytics)
  33. Shelby.tv acquired by Samsung – June 14 (video curation)
  34. SnappyTV acquired by Twitter – June 19 (live video)
  35. Liverail acquired by Facebook – July 2 (video ads)
  36. Newsle acquired by Linkedin – July 14 (content curation)
  37. Cardspring acquired by Twitter – July 17 (payments)
  38. Bizo acquired by Linkedin – July 22 (B2B display ad platform)
  39. Madbits acquired by Twitter – July 29 (image search)
  40. Emu acquired by Google – Aug. 6 (messaging)
  41. TBG Digital acquired by Sprinklr – Aug. 14 (social ads)
  42. Twitch acquired by Amazon – Aug. 25 (video game streaming network)
  43. PaperShare acquired by Dynamic Signal – Aug. 25 (content marketing)
  44. Branderati acquired by Sprinklr – Sept. 3 (influencer marketing)
  45. ShopIgniter acquired by Mixpo – Sept. 3 (social ads and conversion)
  46. Brightkit acquired by Hootsuite – Sept. 4 (social media campaigns)
  47. Polar acquired by Google – Sept. 11 (mobile polling)
  48. Visible Technologies acquired by Cision – Sept. 15 (social media monitoring and analytics)
  49. Zeetl acquired by Hootsuite – Sept. 25 (phone call tracking)
  50. MessageMe acquired by Yahoo! – Oct. 3 (Mobile Messaging)
  51. Proofpoint acquired Nextgate – Oct. 23 (social media security/compliance)
  52. Twitpic’s archive acquired by Twitter – Oct. 25 (Photo archive)
  53. Relay acquired by Kik – Nov. 18 (messaging, Gif)
  54. PeerIndex acquired by Brandwatch – Dec. 17 (influence measurement)
Post Author

CEO and founder of Social Fresh, the social media education company. Jason is a social media consultant, a social media speaker and industry analyst. He consults with corporations and agencies on social media strategy, building community, and influencer...

  • http://www.student-tutor.com/ Laura Petersen

    Interesting! Thanks for the detailed list! I didn’t realize so many acquisitions happened. Cool article.

  • Keith

    Great article! Any plans to refresh for 2015?