Hootsuite, which raised $60 million in new venture financing from an unnamed Boston asset manager Thursday (it has $250 million now in total financing), is at a major crossroads. As it branches into enterprise markets, the company is also planning a bigger push into advertising.
As a consumer-facing platform, Hootsuite – a $1 billion company with its latest round of funding – has 10 million users across 200 countries. But the company’s a formidable enterprise play too, with 1,600 corporate customers. This latter focus is Hootsuite’s moneymaker, and the company has appointed dozens of execs to lead the charge – one being Rob Begg, an ex VP for Salesforce.com’s Marketing Cloud.
Over the next few quarters, Hootsuite will develop advertising products, which has been a consideration since Twitter introduced Promoted Tweets, said Matt Switzer, VP of corporate development at Hootsuite.
Although Hootsuite could foreseeably pack a punch with its own paid product, Switzer stressed the value of partnerships: "we have continued to talk to the rest of the social networks about how they’re monetizing through paid media and how we can support them."
“If you think about where we’re sitting inside of the social (work) flow already, we have unbelievable visibility into not just what’s happening on one social network, but what’s happening across different social networks,” he added.
Although Twitter provides the bulk of Hootsuite’s traffic, it has native integrations with Facebook, LinkedIn and WordPress among others. It also has apps that allow it to plug into sites like Instagram, Reddit, Tumblr and YouTube. On the enterprise side, it has integrations with major email and marketing automation providers.
“This is not going to be for two people in white lab coats who are deploying hundreds of millions of dollars of ad spend,” Switzer said of Hootsuite’s upcoming ad products. “It’s for everybody in the organization to get the content that they’re sending out and get it in front of more eyeballs.”
In the enterprise social media software circle, many have bought or built their way into paid media. Early deals in the space ranged from Salesforce.com's purchase of Buddy Media to Oracle's Involver acquisition. However, more and more social platform providers are adding Facebook and Twitter ad buys to their list of capabilities.
Hootsuite, itself, recently acquired social marketing platform BrightKit and rolled out Hootsuite Campaigns, a way for brands to “take content to an audience that far exceeds their following on owned channels.” It also revealed Thursday its acquisition of telephony company Zeetl.
“Hootsuite appears poised to go after all customer experience and engagement,” said Ray Wang, chairman and principal analyst at Constellation Research. “The social side is just an entry point. And as we're seeing in the market, there's a wide open opportunity for vendors building for this new market.”
With its new injection, Switzer said Hootsuite’s rapidly building out its team and expects to break the 700-employee mark this year. Additionally, he alluded to “acquisitions of both technology and talent,” as well as heavy international expansion in Latin America, Asia and Europe.
“Going back to our roots in the early days of Twitter, to a certain extent there was a good first-mover advantage for us there where we got a product out in the hands of people who helped shape the Twitter ecosystem,” he said. “There were a bunch of decisions made early on that helped shape our positioning within the market today.”