Wildfire, a social media marketing company started by Kiwi Victoria Ransom, has been bought by Google for a reported US$250 million.
Wildfire enables users to manage social media accounts, apps and campaigns through its software.
In less than three years the company grew from five to nearly 400 staff and boasts 16,000 customers, including brands such as Virgin, Cirque du Soleil, Spotify, Sony, Unilever and Amazon.
Wildfire has offices in California, Chicago, New York, London, Paris, Munich, and Singapore.
Ransom grew up on a farm in New Zealand, and went on to study in the US, earning an MBA from Harvard Business School.
After working at Morgan Stanley, she then founded travel company Access Trips, and upon realising the need to build an app to run a sweepstake on its Facebook fan page, decided to create such an application, which became the Wildfire Social Marketing Suite.
Wildfire became profitable in its first year and Ransom was named the 2011 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the Young Entrepreneur category.
According to Crunchbase, Wildfire has raised $14 million in funding to date, including $100,000 from Facebook’s fbFund (the only social media marketing company to have done so).
Other investors include 500 Startups and Summit Partners.
A post published earlier today on the Wildfire blog by Ransom and co-founder Alain Chuard reads:
"We believe that over time the combination of Wildfire and Google can lead to a better platform for managing all digital media marketing. For now, we remain focused on helping brands run and measure their social engagement and ad campaigns across the entire web and across all social services — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and more — and to deliver rich and satisfying experiences for their consumers. To this end, Wildfire will operate as usual, and there will be no changes to our service and support for our customers."
Google product management director Jason Miller said in a blog post this morning that companies increasingly wanted to manage and measure social media efforts in an integrated way.
"The ultimate goal is better and fresher content, and more meaningful interactions. People today can make their voices heard in ways that were previously impossible, and Wildfire helps businesses uphold their end of the conversation (or spark a new one)," he wrote.
"With Wildfire, we’re looking forward to creating new opportunities for our clients to engage with people across all social services."
In a recent interview with VentureBeat, Random said Google+ had opportunities for brands, but still lacked richness of content when compared to Facebook. It also lacked a critical mass of highly engaged, mainstream users or a full suite of APIs for the marketing and analytics crowd.
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