UPDATE 3-Google acquires social ad start-up Wildfire

Tue Jul 31, 2012 4:01pm EDT

* Google pays about $250 mln for business - source
    * Deal is latest in string of social marketing acquisitions


    By Alistair Barr
    July 31 (Reuters) - Google Inc said on Tuesday it
acquired marketing start-up Wildfire to help the world's largest
Internet search company expand further into social media. 
    Google paid about $250 million for the business, according
to a person familiar with the deal. The source is not authorized
to speak publicly about the transaction and requested anonymity.
    Wildfire provides software that links to Facebook Inc
, Twitter, LinkedIn Corp, Pinterest and other
social networks, allowing customers to manage their online brand
and presence. Wildfire's clients include Sony Corp and
Amazon.com Inc. 
    The deal is the latest in a string of social media 
acquisitions by Internet and enterprise software companies. 
    Salesforce.com Inc snapped up Buddy Media in June
for almost $700 million, and Oracle Corp has acquired
several social media businesses this year, including Involver,
Vitrue and Collective Intellect.  
    Google bought social media start-up Meebo for about $100
million in June. 
    "There's still a lot of opportunity for advertisers to get
their message out on social media," said Ben Schachter, an
analyst at Macquarie. "As more and more social sites are being
used, such as Pinterest, it gets more and more complicated for
companies and brands to manage."
    Wildfire business should fit well within Google because the
company specializes in technology that helps advertisers reach
consumers online, the analyst added. 
    Founded by Victoria Ransom and Alain Chuard in 2008,
Wildfire has about 400 employees and powers social media
marketing for more then 16,000 businesses, including 30 of the
top 50 global brands.
    Google plans to slot Wildfire into a group of online ad
services offered through its DoubleClick business.
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