What Cision’s acquisition signals for customers, martech industry

Media software conglomerate Cision has entered a definitive agreement to be acquired by private equity firm, Platinum Equity. The transaction is valued at approximately $2.74 billion, said Cision. The company will go private once the deal is closed.

Cision’s media monitoring services are widely used by public relations and marketing firms to monitor media presence. In the past five years, Cision has acquired a dozen companies, including Falcon.io, PR Newswire, Vocus, Visible Technologies, ViralHeat and TrendKite. The majority of the marketing products and tools it swallowed up have been consolidated under the Cision Communications Cloud.

Why we should care

There has been a buzz of activity from private equity firms in the martech space in recent years. Vista Equity Partners, which acquired Marketo in 2016 for $1.65 billion before selling the company to Adobe for $4.75 billion two years later, recently snatched up open-source provider Acquia for $1 billion. Earlier this year, private equity firm Centerbridge Partners acquired IBM’s Watson Marketing solution and rebranded it as Acoustic.

While shareholders may reap the benefits of the all-cash transaction, it remains unclear how the deal will impact Cision’s communications, marketing and public relations customers. Many of its customers came via acquisitions, and privatization could bring strategic changes to Cision’s products and services — along with the company’s sales needs.

“This acquisition can be good for customers they [Platinum Equity] invest in product and successfully bridge to a strategic buyer or an IPO,” said MarTech conference chair and HubSpot VP of platform engagement, Scott Brinker. “But if they take an approach of aggressive cost-cutting or increase pressure on generating revenue from the existing install base, customers may feel the squeeze.”

For the broader martech ecosystem, Gartner VP analyst Andrew Frank, VP analyst believes these acquisition moves could mean that we are moving towards a more solid consolidation phase. “Holding companies and private equity are taking a more active role in acquiring and operating these organizations with a view toward longer-term growth and viability,” said Frank. “I believe this is good news for marketers who have struggled with immature, fragmented marketers and the unicorn dreams of VC-funded startups.”

More on the news

  • Reuters reported in March that Cision was exploring a sale.
  • Platinum Equity will acquire Cision for $10.00 per share in the all-cash deal.
  • Cision may solicit alternative acquisition proposals from third parties during a “go-shop” period from the date of the initial agreement until November 12, 2019.

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