BloomReach - Hippo
BloomReach acquires Hippo today.

There's big news in the world of content management today as BloomReach, a machine-learning driven e-commerce personalization platform, acquires Hippo, an open-source enterprise content management provider. 

The deal marries content and commerce in one "open and intelligent digital experience platform," according to BloomReach CEO Raj De Datta, co-founder of the nine-year-old, Mountain View, Calif.-based company. 

Earlier this year, BloomReach closed on $56 million in Series D funding — one of the largest funding rounds ever for a private cloud personalization company ever. It boosted its total venture capital to about $100 million. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

The acquisition will eventually bring about 210 BloomReach employees and another 100 from Hippo together under the BloomReach brand.

Personalized E-Commerce + DX-Focused CMS

BloomReach provides a single personalization platform that includes BloomReach’s applications for organic search, personalized site-search and navigation in addition to marketing and merchandising analytics. De Datta said its tools expose high-quality content that provides a more relevant and personalized experience for consumers and more profit for the businesses serving them.

Amsterdam-based Hippo has been increasingly expanding into both e-commerce and advanced personalization this year through partnerships with partnerships with Jena, Germany-based Intershop, an independent provider of enterprise solutions for omnichannel commerce, and Contentserv, an enterprise marketing management solution.

"The unique thing about this deal is it's not a very small company being acquired by IBM and you get sucked into the machine," De Datta told CMSWire. "This is a very successful startup in the commerce space and a very successful startup in the CMS space. We'll get together and reinvent the industry. This is about doubling down on innovation and doing more disruptive things."

Hippo's 17-Year Run

For Hippo, it's the end of an era for a brand name that began as an Amsterdam Web CMS startup in 1999 and surged into the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management, most recently climbing into the visionaries quadrant. It's also the end for the ubiquitous Hippo mascot, an orange hippopotamus (see Tweet below).

Hippo CEO Jeroen Verberg, who will join the BloomReach Board of Directors and serve as general manager of the Hippo business unit, founded Hippo. All other founders and members of the Hippo management team will remain with the company.

Verberg does not see the acquisition of an end to anything Hippo related. Rather, the acquisition is a "very strategic step in building out Hippo, although we will be called BloomReach in the future."

Hippo has moved in recent years from providing solely web content management to a digital experience and performance platform that analyzes visitors and anonymous ones alike. BloomReach’s machine-learning engine will integrate into the Hippo Java-based CMS technology to leverage data and algorithmic intelligence and create personalized digital experiences.

Verberg said the acquisition by BloomReach "was a very natural fit," saying, "It mixes our open platform with all the intelligent things that BloomReach is doing in a proprietary way." 

BloomReach Vision

Raj De Datta

BloomReach and De Datta's vision is for three core cloud platforms to make things happen in digital: a back-end or commerce platform, an experience platform powering personalization and a marketing platform handling campaign execution. Hippo's experience platform layer includes data and algorithms that help determine each visitor’s intent. 

Its open architecture plugs into the other platforms, including both current BloomReach and Hippo partners. That was an important part of the acquisition consideration, De Datta told CMSWire.

"These platforms should be open and extensible and connect to third parties," said De Datta, a former product marketing director at Cisco. "We looked at all the leaders in the CMS space. Hippo came out as a visionary and a leader as evidenced by the Gartner Magic Quadrant recently."

BloomReach was attracted to Hippo's technology leadership teams, its cultural capability and its shared vision — an open and intelligent digital experience platform.

"And many of our clients value that significantly," De Datta said. 

BloomReach Products, Growth

BloomReach's products are broken into two families, including:

  • BloomReach Commerce, encompassing BloomReach’s Organic Search and SNAP applications
  • BloomReach Compass, role-specific analytics providing machine-intelligence insights, KPI management and action-tracking for marketers and merchandisers

BloomReach has experienced revenue and market growth in e-commerce since launching in 2009, working with more than 150 of the top US and UK e-commerce companies, including Neiman Marcus, Staples, Nordstrom and Homebase. Hippo works with 150 customers in 13 countries. 

"The way digital experience will be done in the future will be much more advanced than what we're doing right now," Verberg said. "And if you look at the web content management space, there is a lot of need for innovation. We've been the ones who have been innovating, but with BloomReach we can do so much more. They have a very strong technology stack that is very complementary to what we are already building on, and it allows us to build a platform of the future."

Gartner: Acquisition 'No Surprise'

Mick MacComascaigh, one of the authors of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management, said the interoperability WCM currently enjoys with marketing software will continue. It will experience symbiotic relationships with commerce and, further downstream, software relating to customer service and communications management.

BloomReach's acquisition of Hippo, therefore, comes as "no surprise." 

"It’s part of the reason that Oracle acquired Endeca and FatWire, why Sitecore acquired its own digital commerce offering and why Episerver recently acquired Peerius."

MacComascaigh still called the BloomReach-Hippo deal interesting because it "combines the intelligence to deliver contextualized experience with the means." 

"While the combination of WCM and commerce is very popular," he added, "WCM will continue to be combined with other technologies to drive effective communications across multiple segments of the overall customer, lifetime journey. The three key phases on which organizations will focus their efforts toward more effective communications are before the sale, during the sale and after the sale."

Vendors will continue to use the delivery of highly-personalized/contextualized experiences to differentiate themselves from the crowd. 

"They will do this through partnering and through acquisition," MacComascaigh said. "For the next two years, both approaches — i.e. single vendor with suite and best of breed and high interoperability — will continue to be compared side by side."

Seamless Experience

"We feel it doesn't make sense to build a website on one platform and then optimize and personalize on another. We've been a leader in personalization and commerce, so why not use this as a way to build an end-to-end platform?" De Datta said.

"We've been the layer on top of the commerce platform and CMS independent of whatever platform the website sits," De Datta said. "But we see a real opportunity to change that, and that's a big reason we've done this deal."