SAP swallows Emarsys whole in quest for customer-facing software... with a personal touch

Meanwhile, similar buy Qualtrics continues to enjoy quasi-independence

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In pursuit of growth beyond its back-office enterprise lair, SAP is forking out for Emarsys, a customer engagement software company.

The purchase target's technology produces "hyperpersonalized omnichannel engagements", which sounds lovely.

Without disclosing the financial details involved, SAP CEO Christian Klein said Emarsys's engagement platform would add to the S/4HANA and Qualtrics survey technologies in a way that "opens up new possibilities for our customers that are unique in the market".

But Emarsys is likely a minnow compared with the 2018 Qualtrics buy - which cost SAP some $8bn. Now set to be partly de-merged from SAP in an initial public offering, Qualtrics employs around 3,000 people. Emarsys, on the other hand, has a workforce of around 800, although it is said to manage 10 billion customer interactions per month.

Emarsys says its integrated cloud-based marketing platform allows companies to give customers that personal feeling across e-mail, mobile, social, SMS, and the web. The company was founded by Josef Ahorner, an automotive industry veteran, in 2000. It offers a mish-mash of analytics and data technologies designed to help companies understand how marketing affects revenue and improve their customer data quality.

SAP sees the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating the transition to various forms of online commerce and interactions, and wants a bigger piece of the pie. It will try to convince the market that there are advantages to getting technologies that manage these interactions all tied up with systems running the business and dealing with suppliers.

Unlike Qualtrics, which doubled the size of its headquarters in Utah last year and retained quasi-independence from SAP, Emarsys can look forward to being swallowed whole, which is bound to raise questions around the crossover in analytics and data management technologies, of which SAP has loads.

Investment group Vector Capital was the major shareholder in Emarsys, having put up $33m in series A funding in 2015. Earlier this year, the San Francisco-based VC was said to be looking to sell its stake but pulled the deal as turmoil gripped market in the wake of the pandemic. With SAP's deep pockets, it may now have succeeded. ®


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