A few minutes ago, Wildfire Interactive was purchased by Google for a reported $250 million. Of course, this is a lot of money, and a great exit for Wildfire investors, but what does it mean for social marketers, especially B2B social marketers? It is part of an ongoing trend of consolidation as many smaller vendors have been bought by major companies in the industry such as salesforce.com, Oracle, and now Google. Just looking at vendors I examined (with Kim Celestre) in our October 2011 Market Overview of Social Media Platforms for B2B Marketing (subscription required), many of them are no longer independent companies, and we expect this consolidation to only accelerate.

As a partial list, and please let me know if I missed any major acquisitions (of course, Yammer was bought by Microsoft, and Instagram by Facebook, but neither are external social marketing solutions for B2B marketers):

  • Involver, July 2012, Oracle
  • Collective Intellect, June 2012, Oracle
  • Vitrue, $300M, May 2012, Oracle
  • Buddy Media, $689M, May 2012, salesforce.com
  • Crowd Factory, April 2012, Marketo
  • Alterian, January 2012, SDL
  • Radian6, $350M, March 2011, salesforce.com
  • Unisfair, $35M March 2011, InterCall (West Corporation)

Right now, part of the due diligence you have to do with any new platform for your social strategy, including campaigns, listening, monitoring, and advertising across the social web, must involve looking at the stability of the company and its road map, and how they will partner with you going forward. 

We predict that the next major trend in social tools and technologies will be increased integration with lead management, CRM, and email marketing solutions, making them part of larger marketing suites instead of siloed standalone initiatives. As a social marketer, your job will become even more cross-functional and collaborative this year. 

Finally, what does Google want with Wildfire? They may be either redirecting the core functionality toward making Google+ an appealing place for marketers or are just continuing to build their advertising (and marketing) suite, much like their purchases of AdMob and DoubleClick. It was well-reported they were also interested in Buddy Media before it was acquired by salesforce.com and have been looking to enter this space. Update: Google publishes a post on the acquisition.

What do you think will be the end result of all this collaboration, and what acquisition do you think may happen next?