Bazaarvoice Acquires FeedMagnet

bazaarvoice-logoBazaarvoice, the network connecting brands and retailers to the authentic voices of consumers wherever they shop, today announced that it has acquired FeedMagnet, a privately-owned social media curation company that enables brands to collect, curate and display consumer-generated images, video and social content on their websites and other marketing properties. The transaction, completed in a $9 million cash purchase, complements the Bazaarvoice platform with a customer-centric rich media solution that enables brands and retailers to create powerful visual commerce solutions.

The explosion of activity on image-heavy social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter is helping to shift how consumers discover, explore and engage with brands online, and ultimately make an online or offline purchase. Consumers are not only sharing images on social channels that demonstrate how they use a product in their everyday life, but also social content that expresses a sentiment about the experience they have with a brand. Capturing this user-generated content gives marketers the opportunity to help transform their websites into dynamic, customer-centric destinations, as well as repurpose images and posts with the highest engagement levels within the brand’s own social media, marketing, and advertising programs for even higher rates of awareness, engagement and loyalty.

“What Bazaarvoice does best is help companies establish more human relationships with their customers,” said Gene Austin, CEO and president, Bazaarvoice. “With FeedMagnet, we can extend the deep level of insight provided in product ratings and reviews with highly engaging, emotive customer photos and social posts that depict how a product is used in real life and by real individuals. Brands incorporating these social expressions can build even better relationships with their consumers by delivering valuable contextual information in a more relational, enjoyable experience.”

Hundreds of millions of photos and posts are uploaded daily to social media destinations, a significant percentage of which are created by people that already love or are ambassadors for a brand. The FeedMagnet product gives companies an easy way to identify, collect and curate this compelling, consumer-generated rich media that brands can incorporate directly into their desktop and mobile websites for online merchandising, photo galleries and branded campaign hubs, or into social-embedded banner ads, interactive digital billboards and more. Administrative tools allow clients to manually moderate content or apply automated filters for keywords, users, content type and sentiment to determine what makes it into the feeds.

“We’re excited to join Bazaarvoice because the company is equally obsessed about the influence of consumer-generated content when placed at the centerpiece of brand communication,” said Jason Ford, founder and president of FeedMagnet. “Bazaarvoice’s network of connections between brands, retailers, products and people is a social community that helps businesses to delight, entertain, educate and engage to win trust and loyalty from customers. The addition of FeedMagnet’s social curation capabilities to the Bazaarvoice network will give brands even more power to form stronger, more meaningful relationships with consumers that drive engagement, persuasion and conversion.”

Additional details will be shared during the upcoming Bazaarvoice Summit, scheduled for May 12-14 in Austin, Texas, where Bazaarvoice will showcase how the integration of the FeedMagnet product with the Bazaarvoice platform can help build shopping experiences that inspire consumers, increase sales and promote brand advocacy. For more information and to register for the Bazaarvoice Summit, please visit summit.bazaarvoice.com .

Bazaarvoice Acquires FeedMagnet

Spredfast and Bazaarvoice Complete Integration

Spredfast-1Bazaarvoice has helped brands harness the power of consumer ratings and reviews since 2005 supporting over 30% of the world’s greatest brands like Best Buy, The Home Depot, Geico, Samsung, Walmart, and Brooks Brothers. Bazaarvoice helps these brands use trusted opinions from real product owners to help influence purchasing decisions.  Spredfast helps many of those same brands build their social presence by sharing compelling content and engaging with consumers across social channels. Combine the two and you get a simple way to share a brand’s most powerful endorsements.

Just how important are authentic reviews for online purchases? 70% of Americans look at reviews before making a purchase decision (Google,”Zero Moment of Truth“).  Consumer reviews are 12x more trusted than brand-generated marketing messages (eMarketer, February 2010).  We also know that social fans and followers are a brand’s best customers.  (Forrester, “The Facebook Factor“).  So, reviews drive sales and engaged consumers drive social reach. Until now, though, these two were not easily connected.

How to Amplify Reviews on Social

Spredfast’s new Bazaarvoice integration helps joint customers quickly identify their best reviews, and then amplify them on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  This lets hundreds, thousands, or millions of fans read and share authentic reviews with their networks.  These review posts also drive potential consumers to their site or online point of sale.Spredfast-2

Let’s say I’m the social media manager of an online retailer that sells cameras, and a five star review appears in my Spredfast Social Inbox.  With just a few clicks I can amplify that review across my social channels.  In a matter of seconds, I’ve let a very happy customer tell millions of people how much they love their new Nikon camera.  I’ve also provided my social audience with a direct link back to my website where they can purchase the camera, read more reviews, or find related products.

Spredfast’s new Bazaarvoice integration allows customers to:

  • Monitor of Ratings and Reviews: Pull ratings and reviews directly into the Spredfast Social Inbox.  Build custom search streams to focus on specific products, ratings, and review feedback.
  • Amplify Content Across Social Channels: Easily incorporate authentic reviews into social programs.  Spredfast publishes amplified posts with key components of the review, including product, location, rating, and a link to the product page.  Customers can customize and target an amplified review to increase the likelihood of engagement on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
  • Measure Engagement: Analyze engagement to measure shares, likes, comments, and clicks on your amplified reviews.  Take advantage of comparative analytics to Identify trends, new target audiences, and demand for additional reviews.

Amplifying reviews using Spredfast helps businesses identify valuable interactions with their customers, and then makes it easy to share those interactions with potential buyers. Enhanced targeting capabilities on Facebook and LinkedIn, let brands segment their social audiences according to gender, age, professional experience, or location, and then amplify reviews for products that they are most likely to purchase.

Spredfast and Bazaarvoice Complete Integration

Bazaarvoice Makes First Acquisition as Public Company

What’s the biggest sign that you’ve “won” in your market? It’s when you can acquire your largest competitor. Bazaarvoice just announced that they have acquired their largest competitor, PowerReviews. Largest is a relative word, as Bazaarvoice enjoys a market value of over $1B and PowerReviews was acquired for $150M. It’s not unfamiliar territory, as HomeAway has done the same thing, and dominates the market for vacation home rentals.

Why was it so important for Bazaarvoice to get their IPO done? This is it right here. The ability to acquire companies using stock as the currency. Congrats to Brett and the team at Bazaarvoice!

Full release here. Statesman story here.

 

 

Bazaarvoice Makes First Acquisition as Public Company

Bazaarvoice Stock Opens Trading Today

After filing their registration statement in August, Bazaarvoice began trading on the NASDAQ today. It’s the first Austin tech company to go public this year, with the most recent Austin tech IPO being HomeAway. The company initially looked an a $8 – $10 price for the stock, but it priced last night at $12 with initial trading this morning at around $16.

This is a great deal for Bazaarvoice and a great deal for Austin for many reasons.

Acquisition Offers. As a private company that was growing rapidly, Bazaarvoice was surely an acquisition target on everybody’s radar. Speculation runs rampant with questions like “Is IBM going to buy them?” An IPO puts much of that discussion to rest, or at least provides a very obvious number to the market value of the company.

Acquisition Currency. The company can now buy smaller competitors, or other technology companies that have complementary products for stock instead of cash. That is one major thing you just can’t do as a private company. Company stock is a great currency to use for acquisitions.

Employee Liquidity. As soon as the company’s trading lockup expires, employees with vested options will be able to turn their shares into cash. A rare feat that many attempt, but few achieve.

The Startup Circle of Life. Senior executives with significant stock positions who made millions will eventually depart and have enough money to fund and start their own technology companies. Even more important, they will have the experience and understanding of what it takes to build a high growth technology company. 3-5 years from now people will be talking about certain startups as “former Bazaarvoice people.”

Congrats to my many friends at Bazaavoice!

Bazaarvoice Stock Opens Trading Today

Which Austin Companies are Hot in the Private Market?

So you’ve raised your B round, but an IPO isn’t really possible and the bigger fish aren’t yet sniffing around to acquire your company at a price that your venture backers are interested in. How do you sell some private stock to buy that sports car with cash? Welcome to the secondary market.

Shares of stock in companies like Facebook and Twitter are changing hands, even though the stock is not publicly traded yet. How do they do that? Well, I’m sure you have to carve out a bunch of restrictions on your stock, but there are markets out there to facilitate the exchange.

The firm SecondMarket just released their Q3 report, with a focus on the Austin market.

So who is Austin is on the watchlist? Apparently the leaders are Gowalla, Bazaarvoice, and SpiceWorks. Since Bazaarvoice filed for the IPO, they won’t be a secondary market player for long.

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Which Austin Companies are Hot in the Private Market?

Bazaarvoice Files for IPO

In the “you knew this was coming” category, Bazaarvoice filed for an Initial Public Offering (IPO) of it’s stock today. The news is being covered by TechCrunch and The Statesman. The company is one of the fastest growing in Austin, going from 70 employees in April 2007 to over 600 today. In conversations with company co-founder and CEO Brett Hurt, he has always characterized the company’s financial condition by saying that they could stop growing and be a profitable company any time they wanted to. But as long as the market for their software continues to be strong, the company will invest in losses.

The offering is anticipated to raise around $80M in cash for the company. The underwriters are some of the top names on Wall Street including Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank Securities, and Credit Suisse Securities. Typical IPO’s are priced in the $12 – $14 per share range, and with BV’s 46M shares outstanding that would be a total company valuation of over half a billion dollars. An offering price has not been set, so I’m totally guessing and using round numbers, but it sounds about right to me.

This offering would make Austin Venture’s stock worth over $200M. Insiders call this type of deal a “fund maker” meaning whichever fund invested in the company would provide a solid return to their limited partners. In reality investments have probably been made from several year’s funds, which can prop up the returns in lower performing funds.

If you enjoy reading long-winded financial infoporn, you can find the registration statement on the SEC website here. It shows things like the company’s revenue growth rate in the past three years from $22M to $38M to $64M.

So, Austin entrepreneurs and other members of the tech community, let’s go out and build a few more great companies like this, shall we?

Bazaarvoice Files for IPO

WhaleShark Adding Money and Talent

It’s been a big week for WhaleShark, announcing some new executive talent and confirming additional capital of around $10M. Yesterday the company announced that Paul Rogers has been appointed Chief Technology Officer. Paul led the engineering team at Bazaarvoice in the early days and left to anchor Google’s Austin office when it opened in 2008. “I am honored to be part of the WhaleShark Media team,” said Rogers. “I look forward to working with a company that is focused on how to better the overall consumer experience across its growing portfolio of sites.”

Steven Pho also joined the company as a Sr. Director of Business Development. In Pho’s new role as a senior director, business development, he will be a member of the team responsible for expanding WhaleShark Media’s portfolio of online coupon sites. “With its recent growth, WhaleShark Media is positioned to revolutionize the online coupon and deal space,” said Pho. “I am excited to be on board with such an innovative team and am looking forward to helping shape the next steps of business expansion.”

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WhaleShark Adding Money and Talent

People News at SpredFast and Bazaarvoice

Former Lombardi Software CEO Rod Favaron Joins SpredFast as CEO

Spredfast today announced that Rod Favaron has joined the company as chief executive officer, effective immediately. In addition, Favaron will join the Spredfast board of directors. Favaron’s appointment caps off a year of successes for Spredfast which include aggressive customer acquisition, Series A funding from Austin Ventures in April 2010 and ongoing recognition by industry analysts as an innovative player in social media marketing and the growing social customer relationship management (CRM) market.

“2010 was a great year for Spredfast and the social CRM market. Companies now realize that social media is a crucial communication platform for engaging customers, and companies that embrace social get a great advantage,” said Ken Cho, co-founder of Spredfast. “We’re thrilled to have someone with Rod’s talent and background on board as Spredfast gears up for another year of explosive growth.”

Solar Winds CEO Michael S. Bennett Joins Bazaarvoice Board

Bazaarvoice today announced that Michael S. Bennett has joined the Bazaarvoice Board of Directors. Bennett is a 30-year veteran in the technology industry with tremendous expertise in accelerating growth in early stage and public technology businesses and building organizations that distinguish themselves in tough, competitive environments. A seven-time CEO, Bennett most recently served as president, chief executive officer, and chairman of SolarWinds, where he led the company to its IPO in May 2009 as the first Austin company to go public in five years.

“Mike Bennett deeply understands how to build sustainable growth and lead an organization for the long term,” said Brett Hurt, founder and CEO of Bazaarvoice. “He has created some of Austin’s most successful companies while focusing on the lasting economic impact that these companies can have in our local community. What I most admire about Mike is his commitment to build companies that excel in terms of culture, purpose, and community impact – all while achieving phenomenal operational results. He’s one of the best CEOs I’ve ever worked with, and we will all benefit from his influence and guidance.”

People News at SpredFast and Bazaarvoice

Austin Apps to Power Your Personal Economy

mobileTech Tuesday, by Steve Guengerich

thecenteroftheuniverseIn a post on TechCrunch over the holidays, entrepreneur and author Stephen Martin wrote about the premise of his new book, The Enterprise of One. In the post, Martin writes about how we have arrived at a new milestone he calls “the democratization of opportunity.”

He goes on to write a key passage about the potential for individuals:

Today, a person’s professional identity is more important than ever. Individual skills, expertise, reputation and authority have become the personal currencies of our economy. And they are the currencies that will lead us into the future… Who you are as a person, and your expertise and passions, are more important than ever. In fact, they drive your own personal enterprise.

Technology mobility is a key enabler for allowing each of us to realize our own, personal enterprise. This is because technology mobility unbinds us from physical space, allowing one to engage in whatever activity is most important at the moment, from wherever you are.

But with the upsides of mobility and democratization of opportunity there are obviously downsides as well. Among these downsides are the struggle to manage relevance and credibility, both of which are problems that various companies in Austin and beyond have been working to solve.

Examples of solutions for managing relevance range from the value proposition of an OtherInbox – “Save your [email] inbox for real people” – to the confidential network of talent matching websites from StrictlyTalent which promises to “deliver a fast, efficient and relevant process for both talent and recruiters.” Another example is Mass Relevance, recently announced to great interest but not generally available yet, for producing more relevant promotions and higher-value marketing.

For managing credibility, there are a number of companies producing solutions, based on an interesting array of approaches. At Appconomy (where I presently spend a majority of my time), the approach to credibility is based on the power of strong ties and close-knit groups. Other relatively new mobile apps (from teams outside of Austin) with a similar bias for strong ties and groups that have received good download activity are GroupMe and Path.

Whereas Path is focused on photo-sharing and GroupMe is focused on efficient group texting (and on-the-fly conference calls), Appconomy’s first app is focused on providing an effective, single app to manage one’s multiple communications channels, e.g., email, Facebook, and Twitter. All three apps, and others like them, are a nod to the pragmatic reality (which a broader body of research supports) that we all engage with a relatively small number of others, day-in-and-day-out, to get our work done and that we trust for ideas, feedback, and information.

Facebook further endorsed the power of groups through the introduction of Facebook Groups, among its many new features revealed during the fourth quarter of 2010. It will be interesting to see how this capability is increasingly leveraged by Facebook app developers, like Austin-headquartered Dachis Group.

Other approaches to managing credibility range from solutions that trust the power of user-generated content, with big (Bazaarvoice) and little (SocialSmack) players, to solutions that rely more on conventional legal forms of detection and prevention of fraudulent sources, like those from CSIdentity.

No doubt as new mobile technology products and more powerful social apps give rise to the enterprise of one, we’ll see more investment in start-ups that help you confidently power your personal economy. Let us know if you have a favorite example of such a mobile and/or social app, whether it hails from Austin or elsewhere.

Austin Apps to Power Your Personal Economy

Bazaarvoice Launches Social Commerce Insights

Austin-based Bazaarvoice, the leader in social commerce, has been aggressively building out an incredible suite of applications, furthered by the launch of Social Commerce Insights, which allows marketers to easily and precisely measure social commerce ROI. Social Commerce Insights raises the bar on social media measurement by enhancing Bazaarvoice’s industry-leading analytics capabilities with pre-built integrations with leading Web analytics solutions, including Adobe® SiteCatalyst®, powered by Omniture; Coremetrics®, an IBM Company; and Google Analytics. Through Social Commerce Insights, marketers can now easily uncover and measure the contribution of customer conversations at every stage of the purchase path, gaining “at-a-glance” results on KPIs for customers who engage with social commerce via Bazaarvoice’s solutions versus those who do not.

“I founded Coremetrics in 1999 to bring accountability and insight into the emerging world of eCommerce, and Bazaarvoice was built from the ground up to offer the most robust analytics capabilities available in the social commerce arena,” said Brett Hurt, founder and CEO of Bazaarvoice. “Now with Social Commerce Insights, we’re helping our clients take the next step by drilling into the ways that social commerce impacts their bottom line. Marketers will now gain absolute proof of how their social commerce investment impacts the actual purchase path and the bottom line — and not simply invest resources in social media with limited insight on what they get in return. In this economic age, ROI matters more than ever.”

Social Commerce Insights: How It Works

Social Commerce Insights taps the power of the Bazaarvoice social commerce platform and Radius partner program to deliver highly actionable insights and ROI analysis with minimal client effort, leveraging the benefits of Bazaarvoice’s Software as a Service business model.

Clients using Social Commerce Insights can:

  • Use their existing analytics reporting tools to measure customer interactions with Ratings & Reviews, Ask & Answer, Bazaarvoice Stories, and profiles at any level of granularity;
  • Easily segment traffic based on social commerce engagement and evaluate KPIs for different types of shoppers at every point in the purchase path; and
  • Generate benchmarks to evaluate new ways to include social commerce in the user experience.

Marketers who implement Social Commerce Insights can now link social commerce contribution and engagement to customer behavior, answering critical questions like, “How does a review impact average order volume?” and demonstrating the real results generated by customer conversations.

“One of the biggest problems facing social media today is the lack of measurement,” said Bryan Eisenberg, best-selling author and Web analytics thought leader. “Lots of people are investing tremendous amount of money and resources in social media, with no real idea of how much they get back. Nine out of ten marketers have very little idea of what is working, and they simply can’t deliver the hard metrics that the C-suite demands. Bazaarvoice has led the pack in this area since the beginning and are extending their lead with this new Social Commerce Insights offering.”

Bazaarvoice Launches Social Commerce Insights