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Salesforce.com Buying Buddy Media? | Facebook Shares Reach New Low | Twitter Speeds Up

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Buddy MediaSalesforce Set to Snap Up Facebook Friend Buddy Media for More Than $800 Million (AllThingsD)
Cloud-computing pioneer Salesforce.com is close to a deal to acquire Buddy Media, the five-year-old company that helps brands manage their Facebook presence. Sources say the two companies have agreed to terms that will value Buddy Media at more than $800 million, but that the transaction hasn’t closed yet. Fast Company Founded a little more than four years ago by Michael Lazerow, Buddy Media has raised $90 million in venture funding from the likes of Peter Thiel, Ron Conway and Institutional Venture Partners. VentureBeat Presumably, Salesforce could add Buddy Media to its long roster of services targeting the enterprise like Chatter and Force.com. It’s unclear how much crossover there would be with Salesforce-owned Radian6, another social media management service. BetaBeat An acquisition for Buddy makes sense. After Facebook’s bungled IPO, there was little room left for companies with offerings reliant upon Facebook to go public themselves. And judging from Buddy’s hiring of an “IPO-ready CFO” last August, an IPO was its preferred route. Forbes The deal would be a major validation for social media marketing, a still nascent but fast-growing segment of the online advertising market. A number of startups are in this field, such as Wildfire Interactive, Hearsay Social, Lithium and Vitrue, which was acquired last week by Oracle for $300 million. Last year, Salesforce bought Radian6 for $326 million. Read more

Startup of the Week: Tello, a Yelp-Style Customer Service Rating Site

mbStartups is pleased to announce the Startup of the Week: a weekly post dedicated to the newest faces in new media.

In honor of President’s Day weekend sales, this week’s featured startup is Tello, a forum for thanking businesses for providing excellent customer service. The company’s logo evokes the aesthetics of the 1950′s, said CEO and founder Joe Beninato, “when service used to be good.” We recently met up with Benitato to talk about this latest spin on the rate-it site and the new business model that goes with it.

How it Works

Customers can already voice their opinions on Yelp, but with Tello, instead of skimming through the comments to find out which bridal consultant or massage therapist to book by name, they can check out a local business and instantly see who has gotten the best feedback. “Yelp is about the place – we’re more about the people in the place,” Beninato said. The content is crowd-sourced, with options to add both the name of the business and the employees who work there.

The mobile app, launched February 9th for iPhone, iPad and Android, connects to Facebook and Twitter, and will eventually have a check-in function as well. We tried it out on Baked, the Brooklyn bakery where we conducted the interview. The address popped up, along with a map.   Rather than giving a star rating, customers are asked to decide if the experience was positive or negative, and leave a comment if they’d like to elaborate. “People tend to be polarized,” Beninato said of the star-rating system. A simpler question to ask is, “would you recommend it or not?” We didn’t catch the cashier’s name at Baked, but whoever he was, we clicked the icon to give him a thumbs up. A public complaint board runs the risk of subjecting poorly paid cashiers and new hires with too much negative publicity, but Beninato says that so far, 80% of the users have used the service to leave compliments rather than complaints.

Beyond local eateries and shops, Tello is good for any company that relies on customer service to stay competitive, like car dealerships, hotels and airlines. For example, Beninato credits good customer service for moving Virgin America ahead of the competition in an industry that’s suffered from heightened security. “They’re thriving when others are having trouble,” he said, and the pink mood lighting doesn’t hurt, either.

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