Cision Buys Analytics Firm TrendKite in $225 Million Deal

(Bloomberg) -- Cision Ltd., a public relations software company, agreed to buy analytics startup TrendKite for $225 million as it continues to invest in software automation to improve social media campaigns.

Austin, Texas-based TrendKite Inc. uses artificial intelligence to help communications professionals assess whether their work has any impact. It will continue to be offered as a stand-alone product, Cision said in a statement Wednesday, but will eventually be rolled into into a wider suite of cloud services.

“We’re planning on keeping everything and investing more in it, be that locations or people,” Cision Chief Executive Officer Kevin Akeroyd said in an interview.

Akeroyd said TrendKite’s senior leadership will stay with the firm, and that several of the startup’s leaders will be given “very senior positions in the combined entity.” Layoffs aren’t anticipated.

Cision has been snapping up smaller companies with regularity, and TrendKite isn’t the first to be announced in 2019. On Jan. 3, the firm said it would acquire Falcon.io ApS, a Danish social media management startup. Last year, it also acquired the technical assets of Berlin-based ShareIQ, which Akeroyd said helped Cision bake image-recognition into its cloud-based social media products.

The CEO said the company had undertaken “over a dozen acquisitions during the last four years,” and that while further M&A would continue to be part of the mid- and long-term strategy, the firm is now focused on integrating its recent purchases.

Cision focuses heavily on earned media -- word-of-mouth promotion that isn’t paid for, often taking place on social media platforms.

“When you’re literally dealing with millions, if not tens of millions of hits every hour, how do you go about content identification, relevance, sentiment, and things like that?” Akeroyd said. “There’s a real acceleration to be able to make that entire process faster and way more efficient.”

This earned media -- mentions from fans, customers, and others -- can save marketing departments big money if it means they don’t need to pay for promotion on networks like Instagram. In 2018, social media management service Hopper HQ estimated that a single paid post by TV personality Kylie Jenner on her Instagram account cost as much as $1 million, up from $400,000 a year earlier.

TrendKite, founded in 2012, has raised about $46 million in venture funding to date, including the most recent round of $11 million in December 2017, led by New York-based Harmony Partners.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.