What I Wrote An Industry Insider Last March About Visible (Being Bought by Cision and Vocus)

News today: Cision and Vocus Announce Acquisition of Visible Technologies. Cision makes PR and marketing tools. Vocus similarly provides marketing and PR tools suites. Private equity firm GTCR Canyon Holdings is combining the two, “to form a premier global public relations cloud company.” And now add another acquisition, this time a leading social analytics provider.

I saw this one coming — not the particular acquirer, but rather that Visible Technologies would be a target. Simply put, the company’s numbers didn’t suggest long-term viability as an independent, much less capacity to grow. This situation has been clear for a while.

I talk to a lot of industry figures, often very speculative conversations about players and developments in social analytics, big data, visualization, text and sentiment analysis, and other technologies and their applications. I was discussing text analytics provider Attensity last March with a rival-company exec — I posted two articles about Attensity just last month — and the question arose, Which (other) companies might be on the market? I put forward Visible Technologies. My e-mail:

Date: Sun, 23 Mar 2014 18:20:42 -0700 (PDT)
From: Seth Grimes
To:
Subject: Social media monitoring company

Visible Technologies. $79.5 million in funding, including $1.4 million in debt last November [2013] and $1 million in debt in late 2009, a month before a Series C investment that, I suppose, could’ve gone to paid off that debt.

http://www.crunchbase.com/company/visibletechnologies

With 90 employees (according to Crunchbase; possibly outdated) and given that funding,
they can’t possibly be generating enough revenue to justify an IPO. With a Series A
dating back to 2006, there must be pressure for something to happen. Further, I figure debt financing is a bridge until something else goes down.

I note that Visible took another $2.8 Million in debt financing on July 11, 2014, according to Crunchbase. Another bridge.

Also note, as of the 2012 acquisition by Visible Technologies of Cymfony, “WPP’s stake in the merged company is 49% with Visible’s management and venture investors retaining voting control of the company,” according to industry reporting. WPP is, of course, itself a multinational advertising and public relations company. I wonder: What stake (if any) is WPP retaining in the combined company, or has WPP ceded territory here?

Expect Visible’s (and Cision’s and Vocus’s) new owner to take make significant cuts to reduce redundant administrative, sales, marketing, and other staff. And whatever name(s) the combined entity takes, expect a formidable marketing, PR, and social-media services and analytics presence.

4 thoughts on “What I Wrote An Industry Insider Last March About Visible (Being Bought by Cision and Vocus)

  1. Good perspective Seth. Yes, the market continues to streamline a bit and there is even clearer delineation between social monitoring (like a clipping service) and advances social intelligence that is quantitative, predictive and transformative. It’s important at some point that these categories are separated because they are indeed going in separate directions. Disclosure, as CEO of Converseon, we are highly-focused on the latter (as you know) . Best.

    1. Yes! A company presentation gives revenue of $186,154 per employee in 2013, up from $126,667 per employee in 2012 and $76,636 in 2011. 90 employees (my best guess) would put 2013 revenue at $16,753,860.

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