Oracle announced the purchase of Involver Tuesday, although a press spokesperson declined to say anything about it beyond what was published on its website. In May, Oracle bought Vitrue, another social marketing tools purveyor, for a reported $300 million. Oracle also recently purchased Collective Intellect, a maker of social media monitoring software geared to tracking customer comments and complaints, as part of a broader customer experience strategy.
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Like Buddy Media, which Salesforce.com bought in June for $689 million, and like Vitrue, Involver helps marketers create landing pages and applications that can be embedded on Facebook and other social media websites. However, although there may be some overlap between Vitrue and Involver, Oracle is particularly stressing its interest in the SML social markup language Involver created, which gives Web designers and developers a greater degree of freedom over the content they create to be embedded in a social site. Involver provides a library of social applications, which its customers can modify to suit their needs, and it has also created a Visual SML tool for developers.
Oracle and Salesforce.com seem to have fallen into a pattern of making news in this area on alternate days of the week. The two compete in customer relationship management, with the emphasis increasingly shifting to online and social sales and customer service. According to a Wall Street Journal report on Monday, Salesforce.com is on the verge of buying GoInstant for more than $70 million, although nothing official has been announced. GoInstant's co-browsing software makes it possible for a customer service representative to browse a website along with a customer--not through screen sharing, but as a shared session where the representative might help a customer complete a form, for example--and does this all without requiring a plugin.
This pattern has been intensifying since last year, when Salesforce.com stepped up its focus on social business with the introduction of Chatter and the acquisition of Radian6. Oracle countered with the acquisition of RightNow, in part for its ability to connect and service customers through social media interaction.
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