There have been many observers congratulating Marketo and Adobe for the recent acquisition. I can see why the marriage of the leading B2B and B2C Marketing Automation platforms will give CMO’s a one stop shop for martech. It will give the enablement and consulting ecosystem an easier time to support one company instead of two – a better proposition for the customer. However, I have seen firsthand when marketing technology companies are acquired when I worked at Oracle Marketing Cloud. I came in after the Eloqua acquisition and in the middle of Responsys / Blue Kai and the process looked a lot this:
Noah’s Ark – With an acquisition, there are two of everything including R&D, support, and sales. Marketo customers will be a bit nervous but the inevitable re-assurances will come from Adobe that Marketo will stay independent as will their commitment to success. But behind the scenes the exact opposite is happening.
Administrative infrastructure is consolidated almost immediately such as HR, Finance, and Legal. No big deal really, that is the economy of scale, until the budgeting is consolidated for research and development. After all, there can only be one mother ship. Developers are consolidated with the best talent being dispersed within the organization. Sales and support teams are blended to support the entire Adobe portfolio. That direct line to Marketo expertise eventually turns into an 800 number and a support ticket.
Brain Drain – Eventually, after restructuring settles into a new normal and Adobe has selected their best and brightest – the recruiters start to call. It really is a testament to those that make it past the Noah’s ark stage and the martech community knows it. Having been in their shoes, it is easy to take their call because of a drastic culture change, a diluted voice, and an unfamiliar formality in process.
Former Marketo leadership will move to smaller players or consultants and will most likely be replaced with veterans from Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, and Salesforce. One-off, this doesn’t hurt the customer but I have seen this become systematic to the point that almost all institutional knowledge is lost.
Old Toys – Adobe is now in acquisition growth mode, just like Salesforce and Oracle so they need to feed the beast. There will be another acquisition that will re-focus the energy and effort of Adobe leadership and the process will start all over again. You should expect development resources to move away from Marketo and towards integration of the Adobe suite. Eventually the Marketo user conference will become the Adobe user conference.
We have seen this movie before with Eloqua, Pardot, and Silverpop. The flagship product becomes a point solution and then it becomes somewhat of an afterthought. New technologies are built or added and what was once a consideration on its own merits is now a line item in a solution suite.
This process will take years so please don’t think you are stuck on a sinking ship. My advice is to sign yearly contracts to gauge how effective Adobe is with integrating Marketo. Always evaluate and get quotes from their competitors just to keep them honest.
If you are interested in talking to any of your peer Marketo customers – we have them available here.