Peter Kafka

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Facebook Pal Buddy Media Raises $54 Million

Facebook is worth anywhere from $50 billion to $100 billion. Now Buddy Media, which helps advertisers manage their presence on the social network, is worth $500 million.

That’s the valuation sources say the company earned in its most recent $54 million financing round. New investor Insight Venture Partners put money into the company, along with earlier investors Institutional Venture Partners, Bay Partners and GGV Capital, which led the round.

None of the money will go to employees or early investors, says Buddy Media CEO Mike Lazerow; instead it will be used to fuel expansion in Europe and to double the size of the company’s staff. The New York-based company has now raised more than $90 million, including a $28 million round last fall.

Buddy Media’s services aren’t exclusively for Facebook — advertisers can use them for Twitter as well, and as Google expands its social efforts, there will likely be room for Buddy there, too. But it is primarily in the Facebook business, via software it sells to brands which helps them navigate through the social network, which usually includes purchasing ads from Facebook, too.

That linkage (note that Kevin Colleran, Facebook’s original ad guy, is now on Buddy’s advisory board) means that many assume Facebook will one day end up buying Buddy. But I asked Lazerow about that last spring, and he said he had no interest in the idea– as it turns out, he was likely deep into the fund-raising process at that point.

And he says he still has no intention of selling anytime soon: “We feel like we can be a very large independent business, so why not scale the business today and build it up?”

Very long press release:

Buddy Media Announces $54M in Series D Funding From Leading Late-Stage Investors

Social Media Management Software Company Secures Growth Capital to Fuel Continued Rapid Expansion

New York, NY – August 15, 2011 – Buddy Media, the social media management software of choice for eight of the world’s top 10 global advertisers, today announced that it has raised $54 million in Series D funding from a group of leading late-stage investors.

The capital will be used to more than double its product, sales and support staff in the next year as well as fund additional global offices and acquisitions.

Current Buddy Media investors GGV Capital, Institutional Venture Partners and Bay Partners, as well as new investor Insight Venture Partners participated in the round. GGV partner, Jeff Richards, led the round and has joined the Buddy Media Board of Directors.

The investors each bring a wealth of knowledge and proven success to Buddy Media. GGV’s portfolio includes household names such as Pandora, SuccessFactors and Alibaba Group. Institutional Venture Partners has funded 300 companies since its inception, including Twitter and Zynga in the social space. Insight Venture Partners has been recognized by Red Herring Magazine as one of the Top Ten venture investors globally. And Bay Partners has had over 250 successful exits (IPOs or $250M+ acquisitions) over 35 years and have been investing around open social graph APIs since 2007.

“Buddy Media is at the center of the largest two-way communications revolution that the world has ever seen,” said Michael Lazerow, CEO and Founder, Buddy Media. “Our new funding ensures we have the resources necessary to accelerate the growth of our large, fast-growing software business. I am truly ecstatic to be working with such an amazing group of investors, and believe it’s a testament to our success thus far.”

The latest investment comes on the heels of massive growth and expansion for Buddy Media, including the following milestones:

· The company has added close to 200 new customers in 2011, including some of the world’s most recognizable global brands, retailers and media companies such as Ford Motor Company, Hanes, ESPN, Hearst Corporation, and Virgin Mobile USA.

· The company’s revenue has more than doubled since the end of 2010.

· The company has maintained a net promoter score of 75 in 2011.

· Employee headcount has grown from 40 employees in 2009 to almost 200, with continued massive hiring plans for 2011 and beyond.

· The company acquired social commerce and analytics leader Spinback in May 2011 and plans to complete its integration and roll out this month.

· The company opened its European Headquarters in London last month and hired Luca Benini, a senior executive from Comscore, as Managing Director, Europe.

· The company won the TechCrunch “Crunchie” Award for Best Enterprise application in January 2011.

· CEO and Founder Michael Lazerow was named New York Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in June 2011.

· The company recently hired Dennis Morgan as Chief Financial Officer. While at Yahoo!, Morgan led corporate finance efforts for more than $5 billion in acquisitions and business development deals .

· WPP, the world’s largest communications services group, announced a $5 million investment and global partnership with Buddy Media in October 2010.

Buddy Media’s technology is web-based (SaaS) software that provides companies global scale, secure architecture and straightforward administrative tools to connect with their current and future customers using the power of social media.

“Social media is now embedded in every aspect of the customer journey — from ratings and reviews to ‘like’ buttons to tweets. The opportunity for interactive marketing has evolved from building individual social applications to using social media to enhance a wide variety of marketing channels…” wrote Sean Corcoran in the April 2011 report by Forrester Research Inc., “Embedding Social Media Into The Marketing Mix.”

With the exponential growth of Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites, Buddy Media’s new investors understand that the largest businesses in the world need powerful software to market globally.

“Buddy Media has a proven management team, sustained revenue growth and a massive market opportunity. The company is the market leader in a category that sits at the intersection of social media and software-as-a-service (SaaS), two of the largest and fastest growing markets in the technology industry,” said GGV’s Jeff Richards. “We are very excited to continue to support the company’s rapid expansion in the US and globally. Buddy Media has more than proved itself in terms of building the best team and product in the business. The numbers speak for themselves and I can’t be more excited to work with the entire team.”

“I have known the Buddy Media team for more than two years and have been very impressed with their ability to build innovative products that far surpass those offered by others,” said Insight partner Deven Parekh, who will be a Buddy Media board observer. “And the company has out marketed all others while providing stellar customer service. Buddy Media has what it takes to be a massive business.”

In conjunction with the announcement, Buddy Media has also announced that Kevin Colleran has joined its board of advisors and Michael Kassan has been named special advisor to CEO Michael Lazerow. Colleran previously served as Facebook’s first advertising sales executive, and was the company’s longest tenured employee outside of founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Kassan is an internationally recognized business strategist, and currently serves as Chairman and CEO of Medialink, LLC, the leading advisory and business development firm.


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