Notable B2B SaaS Acquisitions in 2021

B2B SaaS acquisitions are exciting, and the milestone acts as a catalyst for change in any business.

For some companies, an acquisition is a way to grow an existing business and maybe even add a SaaS offering. After all, there’s a reason making an acquisition shows momentum in the market. (Publicizing the deal also provides a chance to showcase newly-expanded capabilities and gets you in front of new potential investors, segments and customers. You can find more on that in our “Guide to Announcing the Acquisition of Another Company” ebook.)

Other SaaS and B2B tech companies look to acquisition as a means of exiting. For example, cloud migration company Velostrata came to BLASTmedia looking to differentiate offerings by positioning the company as a key migration and mobility partner for multiple cloud platforms — including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Partner (GCP) and Microsoft Azure. In doing so, the brand also sought to increase awareness not only among potential customers and partners but also investors. The company was snapped up by Google to further the search giant’s Google Cloud Platform (GCP) less than six months into our engagement. 

As a PR agency working with B2B SaaS brands, we’ve seen both ends of the acquisition story. The desired outcomes (and, as a result, PR tactics) look different each time, but one aspect remains consistent: PR’s ability to reach the desired audience.

So, what were the SaaS acquisition stories making news this year? Here’s a look at over 50 B2B SaaS companies that were acquired during the first half of 2021: 

SaaS Companies Acquired in 2021

  1. A Cloud Guru to Pluralsight
  2. Advicent Solutions acquired by InvestCloud
  3. Agari acquired by HelpSystems
  4. Altus Technology acquired by Momentum Telecom
  5. Ascent Business Technology Inc acquired by TraqIQ
  6. Bazaarvoice acquired by Thomas H. Lee Partners
  7. Blue Yonder acquired by Panasonic
  8. Bold360 acquired by Genesys
  9. Boomi acquired by Francisco Partners
  10. Boomi acquired by TPG
  11. Cedato acquired by EX.CO
  12. Changepoint acquired by Planview
  13. Chargeback acquired by Sift
  14. Chorus.ai acquired by ZoomInfo
  15. Clarizen acquired by Planview
  16. Clause acquired by Docusign
  17. Cloudvirga acquired by Stewart
  18. CoConstruct acquired by Buildertrend
  19. ContractRoom acquired by Mitratech
  20. DialogTech acquired by Invoca
  21. Divvy acquired by Bill.com
  22. Docsend acquired by Dropbox
  23. Ekata acquired by Mastercard
  24. Exponea (acquired by Bloomreach) acquired by Bloomreach
  25. Gigster acquired by Ionic Partners
  26. Greenhouse Software acquired by TPG
  27. JAGGAER acquired by PwC France
  28. Kenna Security acquired by Cisco
  29. Kount acquired by Equifax
  30. Lingotek acquired by Straker Translations
  31. MindTouch acquired by NICE Systems
  32. Mobile Solutions acquired by Brightfin
  33. Mya Systems acquired by StepStone
  34. Nuxeo acquired by Hyland Software
  35. PactSafe acquired by Ironclad
  36. Qualtrics acquired by Silver Lake
  37. QuanticMind acquired by Centro
  38. Reflektive acquired by Peoplefluent
  39. Reward Gateway acquired by ABRY Partners
  40. RSG Media acquired by Naviga
  41. Scalyr acquired by SentinelOne
  42. Second Street acquired by Upland Software
  43. ShowingTime acquired by Zillow Group
  44. Sparkcentral acquired by Hootsuite
  45. Sqreen acquired by Datadog
  46. SupplyFrame acquired by Siemens
  47. SyncHR acquired by PrimePay
  48. Talentcube acquired by Phenom
  49. Targetprocess acquired by Apptio
  50. Terafina acquired by NCR
  51. The Marlin Company acquired by Appspace, Inc.
  52. thinktank.net acquired by Accenture
  53. TradingScreen acquired by Francisco Partners
  54. Utilant acquired by Majesco
  55. Wrike acquired by Citrix Systems
  56. Zaius acquired by Optimizely
  57. Zipwhip acquired by Twilio

B2B SaaS Acquisitions Scoring Media Coverage

Despite acquisitions being a great way for SaaS companies to showcase momentum, it can be challenging to stand out from the noise.  

As with other announcements, pairing data and thought leadership with an acquisition announcement can help SaaS companies generate more media interest. 

Here’s a look at a few companies that scored noteworthy headlines and top-tier media coverage around acquisitions of SaaS brands:

  1. Talentcube to Phenom – In February, Phenom made its third acquisition in six months, acquiring Talentcube, a holistic video recruiting platform. Phenom also scooped up My Ally — a B2B SaaS company focused on implementing AI to optimize recruiting — and HR service provider Endouble in 2020. In addition to securing trade coverage around the announcement, Phenom’s videoconferencing tool was mentioned in a Wall Street Journal article about the SaaS company and its customer Southwest Airlines several months later.
  2. DocSend to Dropbox – In March, Dropbox acquired DocSend for $165 million. According to reporting by TechCrunch, acquiring DocSend — which allows customers to share and track documents using a secure link — gives Dropbox’s platform an end-to-end, secure document-sharing workflow.
  3. PactSafe to Ironclad Ironclad, the #1 contract lifecycle management (CLM) platform for innovative companies, acquired PactSafe, the leading clickwrap transaction platform (CTP), to create a new standard for business contracting, to include digital acceptance of online transactions. The acquisition was Ironclad’s first, and the CEO’s comments on how the move related to consolidation in legal tech helped land a feature in Insider.
  4. Chorus.ai to ZoomInfo – In the most recent acquisition on our list, ZoomInfo acquired Conversation Intelligence leader Chorus.ai in July for $575M. TechCrunch covered the announcement in a piece titled, “ZoomInfo drops $575M on Chorus.ai as AI shakes up the sales market.” The article goes beyond only reporting the news, including a quote from ZoomInfo’s CEO and speculating on future financial exits in the Conversation Intelligence space.

Who else is making moves in 2021? Have a notable B2B SaaS acquisition you’d like to see added to this list? Tweet us and let us know. 

Disclosure: This list includes current and former BLASTmedia clients.

SaaS Acquisition News: 3 PR Strategies to Consider

Acquisitions are an exciting, yet uncertain, time for any SaaS company. They often involve complex transitions focused on aligning internal and external messaging to tell a cohesive brand story. Used correctly, PR serves as a critical tool for bridging the gap to a successful acquisition announcement, amplifying the news to new investors, stakeholders and customers. 

Given ample time to prepare for the announcement, your PR team can develop an effective PR strategy around your goals. For example, suppose you’re interested in getting in the room with investors. In that case, the team may focus on earning top-tier coverage. Or, if you’d like to reach prospective customers, they may target trade outlets to highlight your growth plans.

Whatever the agreed-upon strategy might be, your PR team will offer recommendations on whether to pitch the news as an exclusive, share under embargo ahead of the announcement, or execute day-of pitching. 

Here’s a closer look at three strategies for announcing an acquisition and the challenges and benefits accompanying them:

Offering an Exclusive

Why pitch the news as an exclusive? You’ve been working for months to finalize the acquisition details, so what’s the upside to offering a single reporter the opportunity to break the story? “Exclusive” is an enticing word for publications — this strategy allows your team to attract interest from a top-tier or national outlet while controlling the messaging.

On the other hand, an exclusive may reduce the likelihood of other top-tier publications covering the announcement and impact the total coverage due to a lack of early access. 

Pitching Under Embargo

While an exclusive targets one media contact, embargo pitching refers to sharing the news with several reporters before the announcement date. Within an embargoed pitch, your PR team should only include enough information to entice reporters to request an interview or additional details and commit to an embargo date — the date when the acquisition announcement will be made public.

While the rule of thumb for embargo pitching is 48-72 hours ahead of the announcement, this timeline can be extended to a week or more depending on the target outlets and if your team offers an exclusive first. 

Embargo pitching can garner more media coverage in the long run, providing reporters with the time needed to conduct interviews and gather outside information to run a story. But you run the risk of a publication breaking the embargo, so it’s important to consider the implications of pursuing this strategy. 

Executing Day-Of Pitching

Regardless of your acquisition announcement’s goals, day-of pitching should be a part of your PR team’s strategy. A day-of pitch is shared at the same time you issue your announcement and should include everything a reporter needs to cover the news. These pitches may result in an interview request, a posting of your announcement press release, or a feature or mention in the publication.

The good thing about day-of pitching is your PR team can control the timing and message around the announcement, but reporters might not cover the news due to time constraints or other editorial obligations. 

Well, it’s finally game time. Your PR team is ready to execute a winning PR strategy around the announcement of your acquisition of another company.

As the team schedules interviews, prepares briefing sheets for your spokespeople, and monitors and shares coverage, make sure to align your internal team with talking points and encourage them to share the news on social media. 

Want to know more about the strategies driving your acquisition announcement? Check out our ebook on how to use PR to control and propel the message surrounding your acquisition of another company.

When To Set a PR Strategy Announcing the Acquisition of a Company

You courted potential prospects, deliberated with your team and made a final decision. It’s official: you’re making an acquisition!

Now what?

A lot goes into a communication strategy when you’re announcing the acquisition of another company. Your SaaS company’s PR strategy is arguably one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. This strategy will help your company amplify the news of the acquisition you just made to all of your stakeholders — from securing coverage in industry-focused publications that speak to your customers and prospects, to grabbing mentions in M&A-focused outlets that potential investors might read.

To ensure this announcement goes off without a hitch, here’s when — and why — to tell your PR firm about the companies you’re acquiring.

When and why should I tell my PR team about a potential acquisition?

The short answer is “as soon as you know.” After all, there’s no such thing as too much prep time. The good news is that you likely have an NDA with your PR firm, so giving them an early heads up — sometimes even when you just hear whispers of a potential deal — will set them up for success.

The acquisition process can move very quickly after the deal is solidified, and you don’t want your PR team left in the dust. Even before the details are ironed out, your PR team can begin devising an announcement strategy, drafting a press release outline, and identifying potential media targets — all things they’ll build upon once the details are finalized. If you wait too long to tell them, you run the risk of rushing both the strategy and outreach process. And there’s nothing worse than losing out on coverage because you just didn’t give the media enough time to care — or your PR team enough time to think about why reporters should care.

For example, our team was flagged of a potential acquisition at the end of May. Immediately, we jumped on calls with the company executives to talk about the “why” behind the acquisition and gain some insight into what it meant for the market. Armed with this information, we prepared a press release outline and FAQ document and began discussing an announcement strategy. 

Nearly a month and a half later in July, we were ready for the big day. Because we had time to prepare a strategy, assets and talk-tracks, we could focus entirely on pitching the big news to the right reporters — with enough time for them to write a story. It resulted in 20+ hits during announcement week on target industry and financial trade outlets, alongside a feature in the Wall Street Journal.

Plan your SaaS PR strategy early

When a company acquires another company, it’s something people should know about! As your acquisition approaches, keep your PR strategy in mind so you can ensure your big news gets to the right people with the right message.

Want to know more about announcing your acquisition of another company? Check out our ebook, “Your Guide to Announcing Your Acquisition of Another Company,” to learn how to use PR to control and propel the message surrounding your acquisition of another company.

When To Offer an Exclusive on Funding News, and How It Impacts PR Results

Back in 2019, we wrote about when to offer an exclusive on funding news, but since then a lot has changed. According to Crunchbase data, global venture funding hit an all-time high of $125B in Q1 2021, with late-stage funding deals taking the lion’s share of that pie. Due to the rapid increase in digital transformation efforts brought on by the global pandemic, technology adoption is on the rise, as are venture capital investments in technology startups from early stage onward.

So, it stands to reason that we’re doing more funding announcements than ever before, which got me thinking about which strategy — exclusive or broad embargo pitching — could consistently yield the “best” results for SaaS companies. For the purposes of this article, I’ll use “exclusive” in reference to offering a single reporter the opportunity to cover your news, and “embargo pitching” in reference to pitching several reporters the news under embargo before the announcement date.

Continue reading “When To Offer an Exclusive on Funding News, and How It Impacts PR Results”

How to Win Big Through Reactive Pitching

Everybody likes a little competition. In PR, reactive pitching is a challenging yet rewarding way to boost brand exposure and get your company’s name in the headlines. 

Reactive pitching encompasses any kind of PR pitch sent to a member of the media in reaction to something else happening in the world. It could be an event, a trend, an announcement or an article. This PR tactic bets on risky factors such as predictions, strong stances and head-to-head competition. If you decide to invest in reactive pitching as a strategy, your company can win big with meaningful coverage.

Not sure how to get in the game? Here are three reactive formations your PR team can use to secure media coverage.

Trendjacking

Every industry follows certain trends. Identifying and acting on these emerging trends is a difficult play but can greatly benefit your company’s reputation as thought leaders in the field. To run the play effectively, look to your thought leaders for comments or insights and prepare quotes ahead of time — timing is everything! Wait too long, and competitors will run past you, scoring coverage long before you can even touch the ball.

Breaking News Event

Be on the lookout for rumors that could eventually dominate news cycles. Data breaches, major weather events and pop culture drama could monopolize the media. Brands that want to participate in these kinds of conversations need to be ready to offer new insights or perspectives. Social media and customized alerts can help you find crucial information on topics within your industry before they become common knowledge. If you gather enough resources before the snap, you can be the first to offer comment or even break the news! 

Competitor Newsjacking

Offering your own reaction to competitor news is a great way to gain coverage. Look for upcoming announcements by monitoring competitors’ social media and blogs, then work with a thought leader within your company to develop a statement. CEOs or other executives can offer insight into how new developments may impact consumers, trends and the industry as a whole. Again, timing is everything. CEOs can be hard to reach for quick statements, so keep a back-up quarterback ready to field requests!

Does reactive PR pitching sound like your kind of game? Come check out “The Reactive PR Playbook for SaaS Brands” to start planning your next play.

How PR Can Support Your 2021 Webinars

Webinars aren’t a new method of connecting with prospects and customers, though the shift to remote work has revitalized and reimagined the webinar experience. 

But as everything these days seemingly has “remote” or “virtual” in the title, hosts are working in a highly competitive space. Statista reports, from February and March 2020, the number of brands offering webinars grew by 36%. Marketers shouldn’t silo themselves in creating world-class experiences; your PR team can help ensure your 2021 webinars are as impactful as possible. 

Pre-webinar promotion and support 

Getting PR involved doesn’t just mean pitching media contacts to attend. Unless the webinar’s topic is actually newsworthy, media contacts will likely pass. Reporters have a daily quota of stories to fill, so expecting the Wall Street Journal or trade media pubs to sign up is a lofty goal and requires a big story like new funding details, acquisition or merger updates, or widely anticipated product launches. 

But that doesn’t mean the media won’t care. For example, if you’re hosting a panel discussion on marketing trends, your PR agency could help secure a media figure to participate rather than just listen in. Or, if you plan to share a product demo with a customer participating, media relations specialists can pitch the success story ahead of time and reference the webinar as additional material for a story. 

Alternatively, your most relevant media coverage can bolster your webinar promotions. If you’re already emailing prospects and attendees with updates or confirmations, why not include a recent coverage win in your message? A third-party source can boost overall credibility, and you’re also offering meaningful content that continues a conversation or campaign. 

How PR can support previous webinars 

PR tactics won’t end once the webinar is complete. Providing recordings of past webinars to your PR team can help lengthen the overall shelf life. At BLAST, we “reversion” topics regularly. This means we take the material, whether it be an interview, piece of content or webinar, and give the angles or messaging a spin so they are fresh and unique while remaining true to the source. 

Webinars take work, so don’t make this a one-and-done experience. PR reps can help fashion the discussion into a reversioned byline on key takeaways or pitch insights for more in-depth media interviews. 

If your webinar spokesperson is also looking to become a thought leader with more event, podcast or live interview opportunities, webinars provide great examples of public speaking. This is especially helpful, as Grace Williams predicts the rise in virtual events means speaking slots will be even more difficult to secure. By providing a long list of quality examples highlighting industry acumen and personality, like hosting webinars, subject matter experts can stand out from the crowd. 

2021 Resolution: Make Webinars that Matter

We’ve all felt screen fatigue, but as we take our first steps in 2021 I believe we’re more prepared for this remote environment than before. By understanding the real needs of your potential audience, your webinar can be more than a large-scale Zoom call. Tap your PR team for support — we’ll help you amplify the key messages, takeaways and spokespeople in a way that impacts the entire revenue team.

The Content Analysis Process in PR Research

Building a successful PR strategy and plan consists of various components like research, brainstorming and a consistent cadence of communication. But one of the most critical aspects of the initial research stage is content analysis. According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), content analysis is “objective, systematic and quantitative,” and includes a description and evaluation of the content of documents for both the brand and its competitors, including media coverage. 

Analyzing media coverage, blogs, ebooks and other materials from a client and competitors provides insight into reactive, newsjacking and other industry opportunities and sets up a successful strategy from the start. However, content analysis is also a tedious, time-consuming process. Here’s a closer look at what content analysis is and the challenges and benefits accompanying the process:

The content analysis process

Everything starts with research, and analyzing all existing materials and coverage is a good starting point. At BLASTmedia, we conduct a comprehensive media landscape analysis during our initial onboarding period with clients. This process starts by evaluating every single piece of coverage and company news a client and their competitors received and produced over the previous six months. 

We tag each piece with a descriptor, such as “press release posting,” “mention,” “feature” or “contributed content.” From there, we go a step further by identifying spokespeople, noting the domain authority and readership of each publication and outlining what type of company news is being published, such as data, product or general.

After compiling this information, we build an initial competitive landscape snapshot and denote what to prioritize in our own plan. This process also helps us build a foundational understanding of the industry and our client’s technology, a key strategic advantage for our team. 

Challenges of content analysis 

That said, content analysis, when done correctly, can be a tedious process. Tagging each piece of coverage is labor-intensive and requires critical oversight to identify key learnings. 

For example, while evaluating coverage, sentiment must be considered. Maybe a competitor has 300 pieces of coverage over the past six months and is dominating the landscape in terms of coverage. But what if this coverage is centered on a data breach and is mostly negative? The old saying “all press is good press” is simply not true, especially in the world of B2B SaaS. 

Or maybe a competitor has scaled over time and spread services, and our client is only competing on one area of their business. Any existing materials offered by a customer on other verticals or sectors of their business are likely not useful in our efforts and shouldn’t be wrapped into the initial PR planning process. 

Benefits of content analysis for B2B SaaS brands

Content analysis is part of the initial research phase for a reason: an effective analysis leads to a more strategic and informed PR plan. Evaluating individual coverage pieces and all existing materials provides insight into what competitors are talking about, who their primary spokespeople are, what keywords they’re looking to capture and movement happening in the industry through company news. 

Capturing this information early on in the research phase of plan construction helps clients identify what topics they want to be a part of and sets them up for greater success when competing against others in the space. Content also helps our team learn about an executive’s unique voice and build an initial knowledge of the industry in total, our client’s technology and the unique value they offer customers. 

An effective PR plan is critical in standing out in a B2B SaaS landscape, and it all starts with comprehensive research and thorough content analysis. Contact Lindsey Groepper and ask about our media landscape analysis process.

Becoming a Thought Leader: Taking a Stance

Voicing your opinion is now easier than ever before, which may be why it seems like every B2B SaaS company has a thought leader on hand these days. When comments are a commodity, it can be hard for SaaS thought leaders to stand out in a crowded space, much less lead the conversation.

Sure, anyone can call themselves a thought leader, but building a strong thought leadership presence is so much more than slapping your name on a blog post here and there or being quoted in a company press release each quarter. True thought leadership offers an opportunity to showcase your expertise and provide valuable information that can help other leaders overcome the obstacles impeding their success.  

  
Chances are you have untapped industry experience and insights that are incredibly valuable to your audience. By putting a bold, contrarian or unique spin on run-of-the-mill conversations, you can differentiate yourself from the competition and stand out in a sea of stale comments and traditional how-tos. 

Challenge the status quo

One way to take a stance sure to be remembered is by calling out the status quo. In this Barron’s article on the future of education, Katie Sievers, customer success manager at Credly, and Harvard University professor Chris Dede pose the idea that digital credentials will replace proxies like a college degree as the baseline requirement when vetting top talent.   

By challenging the status quo, thought leaders can call out areas ripe for growth or reconstruction, then demonstrate their expertise by offering ways to execute that innovation. Shining a light on how our normal way of doing things needs to evolve establishes you as an industry expert leading the charge. 

Make a statement, and make it bold

We’re all drawn to a bold headline or a punchy quote; it’s the curiosity in us. A huge part of thought leadership is grabbing everyone’s attention in the first place — and saying the same thing as everyone else isn’t going to cut it. Thought leaders must cut through the noise with a statement worth exploring. 

Take this Fast Company article by ScoutRFP’s Michaela Dempsey as an example. In her piece, Michaela brings attention to the fact that males lead the majority of tech companies. To be more precise, only 11% of executive positions in Silicon Valley are held by women. Thought leaders willing to say something bold — like “Silicon Valley is where women go to fail” — will stand out among the generic “we need more diversity in executive positions” tracktalk and spark a critical conversation around important topics. 

Shine a light on what makes you special 

No two thought leaders are the same, which means no two have the exact same experience. Since we learn by watching others, SaaS thought leaders can examine their specific journey to produce tangible advice for people experiencing similar situations. 

This Forbes article featuring Michael Lagoni, the CEO of Stackline, is a great example. Here, Michael discusses how he took a chance on his vision to create a platform with all the tools needed to track and manage an e-commerce business and founded Stackline with just $300 in the bank. As a SaaS thought leader, sharing those unique aspects of your experience gives your audience a fresh perspective on how to reach their own goals.   

Today, being a thought leader is much more than bolstering your brand or solution; it’s about providing your audience with the insights and information they need to succeed. To ensure your SaaS thought leaders can stand out from the competition with a strong thought leadership presence, start with this Thought Leadership Checklist.