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Salesforce.com Acquires Buddy Media – Congratulations Mike, Kass and Team!

The news is officialSalesforce is acquiring Buddy Media.

I couldn’t be more excited for Mike and Kass Lazerow, the founders of Buddy Media, and their entire team.  In five short years they built one of the fastest growing SaaS companies on the planet and a brand that is recognized around the world (validated every time I hear someone in another category or country say “we’re the Buddy Media of ____”).

The best part about being a venture capitalist is getting to work with great entrepreneurs.  Without going into lengthy detail, I can only say that since our first investment in 2010, my experience with Mike, Kass and the team has been the absolute pinnacle of that concept – simply amazing.  They care deeply about their employees, their customers, their partners and their investors.  In a nutshell, what you read is true – Mike and Kass are the real deal, and Buddy is a GREAT company.  I am truly proud to have been an investor and a board member.

For more on the acquisition, see Mike’s blog post here.  It comes from the heart, and provides some terrific background on his thinking and the excitement he has to work with Marc Benioff and help lead Salesforce’s efforts to dominate the marketing cloud.  And for those of you who care about the personal side of entrepreneurship, you should also watch Mike’s video – words can’t really describe it here.

The Partners of GGV feel incredibly fortunate to have been a part of the Buddy team, and are excited to see what Mike, Kass, Jeff, Susan, Patrick and the broader team go on to accomplish as part of Salesforce!

Job Creation

I had three board meetings this week – for BlueKai, Buddy Media and Appirio.  Arguably three of the fastest growing companies in the US (all are growing at 100% or more per year), with terrific CEOs and company cultures.

A funny thing occurred to me as I looked back on my notes from these meetings: THIS IS WHERE JOB CREATION IS HAPPENING!

These three companies have added approximately 1,000 jobs in the last three years.   Yes, they’ve raised about $100M to do so, but it’s a solid bet that they’ll probably add another 1,000 jobs over the next 3-5 years as well (the combined revenue of the companies is close to $200M, and all have plans to continue hiring aggressively).  And – I can assure you these are high paying jobs with great benefits.

I don’t want to make a political statement here, but I think it’s safe to say the various programs the US government has put in place over the last 5 years to stimulate job creation haven’t worked.  They certainly haven’t created 1,000 jobs for every $100M spent.

I guess this is my subtle way of encouraging us to focus on what matters as a country – new business and job creation (see my interview a few months ago with Kym McNicholas from Forbes on the same subject).  Private sector job creation needs to be the #1 focus for us as a nation.  Period.  And we should be taking a page from the Silicon Valley playbook.

I had a chance to have lunch with Steve Case a few months ago at the Techonomy Conference in Tucson.  I was really impressed by Steve and what he is trying to do with StartupAmerica.  My guess is his biggest challenge is getting our notoriously slow moving elected officials in Washington, DC to work together and a) support causes like StartupAmerica and b) pass legislation that is helpful to small business (hint: short-term tax breaks and public business-bashing do not help).

To our elected officials: Please take time every day to ask yourself “Am I working on something today that encourages new business and job creation?”  At the very least, you should be asking “Are we creating 1,000 jobs for every $100M we invest?”

To our citizens: Start a company!  There is plenty of funding available, with historical industry shifts taking place across many industries.  If you need encouragement, read Buddy Media CEO Mike Lazerow’s article in Inc Magazine “Start a Company!”

(And yes, I realize I am simplifying the argument here, but no one likes long blog posts or political rants)

Buddy Media Raises $54M, Led By GGV Capital, IVP and Insight

Today Buddy Media announced its $54M Series D round of financing, led by GGV Capital.  We’ve been fortunate to have a seat at the Buddy table since December of 2010 (we made a small initial investment alongside IVP), and it has been nothing short of an amazing ride.  Mike, Kass and the team are truly building something special.  We’re excited to lead this new round of growth financing, and I’m very fired up to be joining the Board.  Read Mike’s blog post on the financing here, the TechCrunch article here, and AllThingsD coverage here.

Social Media Marketing (Where the Puck is Going)

If you care about Social Media Marketing (where the “puck is going” with respect to ad spending), some good data points on the web this week:

Debra Williamson article on AdAge Digital: “So You Like My Brand on Facebook, Now What”

Julia Boorstin featuring Buddy Media and others leading the charge on CNBC: “Unlocking Social Media Ad Dollars

Facebook put out its “Best Practice Guide: Marketing on Facebook.”  Though obviously focused solely on Facebook, some good data points for social media marketing in general.

Speaking of where the puck is going, we need a Sharks win tonight!

Buddy Media Acquires Spinback

Buddy Media today announced the acquisition of Spinback, an emerging leader in the social commerce space.  Congrats to the Spinback team, and welcome to what we think is a terrific organization.

Social Commerce In Action

Buzz phases like “social commerce” get thrown around way too frequently these days, but we often miss it when micro components of a macro trend are taking place before our very eyes.   So – what is social commerce?  Here’s a great example.

A friend of mine – Ed Zimmerman – is a world-class wine nut (an understatement) and someone whose recommendations on wine can be trusted to the nth degree.  Thus, when he tweeted last night that he was fired up for the new release of a great wine from a small boutique producer in Napa called Zeitgeist, I reply Tweeted that I’d love an intro.  Got the intro this morning, signed up on the Zeitgeist web site, and bought some wine.  Simple.  Zero marketing effort/customer acquisition cost on the winery’s part, zero friction to get me signed up, and if I like their wines I’ll be a customer for life.  I’ll also probably visit the next time we’re in Napa (hopefully soon).

This is one of the reasons why we are seeing a massive surge in new e-commerce models many are calling “E-Commerce 2.0,” and it’s brilliant.  When customer acquisition costs drop to near $0, and you gain quality customers who are referred by other quality customers, the e-commerce flywheel can really get rolling.  I get 10 emails a day from wine lists I subscribe to, and I rarely buy.  I get one Tweet from Ed, and boom – I make a purchase.

Another reason we’re an investor in Buddy Media and are constantly on the lookout for other companies riding this new wave.

How many people might read this post and buy some Zeitgeist wine (the flywheel keeps cranking…)?

Buddy Media on CNBC’s “Tomorrow’s Tech Titans”

Great to see CNBC covering Mike and Buddy Media today

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Congratulations to TechCrunch Crunchie Winners Pandora and Buddy Media

Congratulations to GGV portfolio companies Pandora and Buddy Media for winning their respective categories at the annual TechCrunch Crunchie Awards!  Pandora won for Best Internet application, and Buddy won for Best Enterprise.

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