Google buys social media marketing start-up Wildfire for US$250m

1 Aug 2012

Victoria Ransom and Alain Chuard outside of Google yesterday. Image via Wildfire's Facebook page

Google has announced it has taken four-year-old social media marketing firm Wildfire under its wing, purchasing the start-up for US$250m, as the search giant appears to be upping its efforts to understand how businesses are moving in social media circles to market themselves.

Googler Jason Miller revealed the details of the acquisition in a Google blog.

Wildfire itself was co-founded by Victoria Ransom and Alain Chuard in 2008. They had been the owners of a New Zealand-based adventure travel company at the time. Wildfire now employs almost 400 people.

According to the start-up, it powers social media marketing for more than 16,000 businesses, including 30 of the top 50 global brands.

Its software platform has been integrated directly with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn since early 2012.

Miller, who is product management director at Google, started off his post by touching on how businesses all around the globe are looking to social media to share information and embrace stronger relationships with people, be it fans or customers, and complement marketing campaigns.

“We know because we are one of those businesses – on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn,” he said.

“Today we’re happy to share that the Wildfire team will be joining Google,” penned Miller.

Apparently, Wildfire works with businesses like Virgin, Cirque du Soleil, Gilt Group and Spotify to manage their social efforts across social websites.

“It’s a platform for brands to manage their pages, apps, tweets, videos, sponsorships, ads, promotions and more, all in one place,” said Miller.

Writing about how Google has been honing in on how businesses want to manage and measure their social media and marketing efforts in an integrated way, Miller had this to say: “We’ve been working towards this end for some time. For example, Google Analytics helps businesses measure the contribution of hundreds of social sites; our Admeld service has helped to serve ads in Facebook developers’ social apps; and our DoubleClick platform enables clients to run and measure ads across social websites.”

So what’s the deal with Wildfire going to bring to the Google table?

“With Wildfire, we’re looking forward to creating new opportunities for our clients to engage with people across all social services. We believe that better content and more seamless solutions will help unlock the full potential of the web for people and businesses,” said Miller.

Wildfire also posted an entry on its blog yesterday: “Four years ago, we set out on a journey to make social media marketing easier and more effective. We thought our idea had potential, but little did we know what an incredible ride it would be. Not only have we helped to define and build an entirely new industry, but we’ve created a company that’s larger (from five to almost 400 employees in two and a half years!) and more successful … than we ever imagined.”

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic