A $1.3 billion tech upstart struck a deal to ‘leapfrog’ competitors like Adobe and Oracle

Zeta Global David Steinberg

The marketing tech company Zeta Global has acquired the artificial intelligence startup Boomtrain.

The deal is said to be valued between $35 and $40 million, according to people familiar with the matter.

Zeta Global aspires to compete with giants in the “marketing cloud” sector, such as Adobe, Oracle, Salesforce and IBM. These companies offer marketers a slew of data and technology-driven services aimed at helping them acquire and keep customers.

For example, a big auto marketer might use one of these companies to manage its list of existing customers, its email database, its ad budget forecasts and its website clickstream data – all via powerful software.

As evidence of the growing importance of this sector, Zeta raised $140 million in new funding in May, valuing the company at $1.3 billion, reported TechCrunch.

All of these cloud giants promise that their tools and technology can help marketers make better decisions about what customers they should go after and where to spend their budgets. And all of them are surely interested in claiming to be pioneers in machine learning or artificial intelligence.

The Boomtrain deal is Zeta’s claim to be ahead on this front. Boomtrain currently works with companies such as CBS Interactive and Dow Jones.

“Nobody knows where anything is going, but we’re making a bet on this being important,” said David A. Steinberg, Zeta Global’s cofounder and CEO. He said that via Zeta’s own machine-learning technology and Boomtrain’s proprietary algorithm, marketers will be able to aggregate vast streams of data and get that much smarter about how to correspond with consumers. 

Theoretically a brand using Zeta’s services will be able to figure out the best time of day to advertise, the most compelling offer to display, and the most ideal medium to reach a person with an ad, for example.

“We believe this leapfrogs us past our competitors,” he said. “We are putting this tech at the core of our platform. Anybody who is not investing heavily in [AI] is going to lose to their competitors.”

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