The dangers of big corporate partners

Finding-Nemo-Shark-Wallpaper-HDSalesforce is writing a cheque for $2.5 billion to buy ExactTarget in a move which should be putting the frighteners on its marketing software partners such as Marketo.

Buying ExactTarget will push Salesforce deeply into marketing software which is a region it has so far looked to its partners to provide.

Salesforce owned several marketing-related technology outfits but these were mostly to put adverts on social media sites. But ExactTarget looks at multi-channel marketing automation, an area where has generally relied on Marketo.

In the announcement Salesforce highlighted a Gartner report which predicted that chief marketing officers will spend more money on IT than CIOs by 2017. and ExactTarget’s products, when combined, will “create a world-class marketing platform across email, social, mobile and the web,” said in a statement.

Salesforce is coy about the effect that such a move will have on its business partnerships, in fact it is hardly mentioning it at all.

However, the move might cause some alarm. When the economy is at a low ebb, bigger aggressive companies can pick up some of their partners quite cheaply.

Marketo has suddenly found that one of its closest partners has now become a rival. It is fairly likely that it will not be the first channel partner to find itself in such a situation.

It might be worth partners, who are dependent on multi-national, cash rich outfits, to pop around with their sales figures and customer lists and suggest that the bigger companies buy them out. Certainly it might give them some form of job security and direct the bigger company’s attention away from rivals before it is too late.