Get new investment opportunities, VC news and Brightspark updates in your inbox! Subscribe to our mailing list.

Radian6 provides social media monitoring solutions that uniquely integrate viral behavior measurement capabilities.

In March, 2011, Radian6 was acquired by Salesforce (NASDAQ: CRM) for over $326 million. Brightspark won the CVCA Deal of the Year award for this exit, and it’s still globally recognized as a milestone in Canada’s tech industry history.


Highlighting the achievements of the Brightspark Ventures Fund II was the successful acquisition of its portfolio company, Radian6 by salesfroce.com in 2011, which provided the fund with an 22.8X return on its investment (returning $75.6m from an investment of $3.3m).  The investment in Radian6 clearly showcases Brightspark’s investment model and management strategies at work. Choosing the right market space, with the right management team and working closely with the company is the primary model that Brightspark remains focused on.

The Brightspark team was able to work with this company from close to concept, to product, commercialization, scale up and to a highly successful exit in a challenging market environment.

The Radian6 Team

Placeholder

Marcel Lebrun

CEO, Radian6

Wherever he goes, Marcel brings with him years of leadership with various technology start-ups. A serial entrepreneur, he has raised over $100 million in financing, completed an IPO on the Nasdaq and TSX, and headed up an acquisition by a publicly traded company. After Radian6 was acquired by Salesforce, Marcel joined as their SVP and GM, leading the tech and product teams.

Prior to joining Radian6, Marcel was vice-president of technology consulting at IPTV solutions firm, Mariner Partners. He has also served as chief executive officer and general manager of SalesBridge Canada Corp., and vice-president, fixed solutions division (FSD) of Paris-based, Alcatel, a leading provider of communications solutions to telecommunication carriers.

In 1998, Marcel co-founded and was president and CEO of ImagicTV Inc. a start-up company that quickly became the worldwide market leader in IPTV video software solutions. Marcel began his career at NBTel (Aliant Inc.) holding various positions in engineering, planning and marketing.

Read Bio

Market Environment: 2006

Over the previous few years, the growth of the Internet moved from the consumer market to the corporation and enterprise. And the corporate market was faced with trying to understand the “social web” and what it meant to business.

Radian6 was created with the idea that companies need to be listening to the social web in order to effectively participate in consumer conversations. Intelligence about online conversations is critical: companies need to know what’s being said about their brand, industry, and competitors online. When Brightspark met with the management of Radian6 in 2006, the company was positioned to create an engine to understand what was being said on the Internet.

Brightspark understood that the social web was becoming hugely influential and it was changing the nature of business. Just like websites changed the trade show and magazine industries, and the web changed the source of information, the social web opened the way for anyone to publish their opinion about anything they wanted – and many of these blogs, articles, posts were being read by huge numbers of consumers which meant that new “influencers” were being created. Brand managers needed to respond to a new type of influencer – not editors or analysts, but bloggers, Facebook posts, and a changing influencer market.

Radian6 recognized that they could monitor what was being “said” on the social web, and that would let them understand who influencers were, what “sentiment” was being expressed on the web.

Radian6 built a listening platform designed to help companies be in touch with their customers on the social web. Radian6 initially focused on marketing companies measuring the social web, and once its technology was proven and mature, it spread to all businesses and brands wishing to measure, analyze and report on the social web and their social media efforts. The company was really successful at matching the right technology with the market needs and quickly grew its offering to a platform much broader than listening - aimed at becoming the new customer relationship management platform, underpinned with social roots. The company was aiming high, doubling its revenues every quarter and taking a clear leadership in one of the fastest growing Internet market. Brightspark and the Board encouraged the CEO to aim for a very large market opportunity and to be aggressive.

Brightspark was on the board since the early days, helping management go through the phases of product creation, market validation and creation, and then sales scaling.

After the market and economic changes of 2008 took place, the board of directors was faced with the dilemma that, in a market downturn, customers may slow down software purchases. Radian6 was approached by a number of suitors and Brightspark worked closely with management to determine the best path to take - was a trade sale the best choice; should the company go public; how to evaluate acquisition opportunities and when to finally exit the company. Brightspark was involved every step of the way alongside the CEO, management and board; throughout the Salesforce.com negotiation and the eventual exit.

In 2011, salesforce.com concluded that it was important to acquire the exclusive use of the Radian6 product, and began negotiating to acquire Radian6. Brightspark was part of the M&A committee which led discussions and made decisions relating to a) fairness and business value of the proposal and b) negotiation and closing of the deal. The company was acquired in May 2011, providing Brightspark Ventures Fund II with an 22.8X return on its investment.

Key Success Factors

Radian6 showcases Brightspark’s investment model and management strategies at work. The following factors were key to Brightspark’s success with this investment:

  • Brightspark invested at the seed and prototype stage. The experience of our team could understand the product potential, management’s aspirations and the market potential. Brightspark invested at a very risky stage in a large opportunity led by experienced management.
  • Sophie Forest, the representative from Brightspark served as a partner, board member, “sounding board” and valued experienced partner through the process for the CEO. The CEO called on Brightspark’s expertise and experience in the process many times.
  • The company became a leader in one of the fastest growing Internet markets: Social CRM or the social enterprise. Brightspark’s experience in enterprise software, internet and adapting to a new marketplace allowed us to provide appropriate advice.