From Agency to Enterprise Software: The Evolution of Buddy Media

The other day I wrote a post about the lack of Enterprise Software disruption coming out of NYC—and a lot of people responded that I wasn’t citing Buddy Media.

Buddy Media was an amazing exit, but I never really thought of it like “enterprise software”.  I thought about it more like an agency that had developed off the shelf social tools around its service solutions.  When I looked at the site, it had the term “Social Enterprise Software” written all over it.  Hell, it might as well have screamed “Salesforce should acquire us.”  I guess I hadn’t been there in a while, so my bad.

I don’t know exactly when the agency to product transfer happened at Buddy, or at what point you can start calling yourself a software company (when service revenues dip below subscription/license revs?), but the evidence would suggest that repositioning the company as social enterprise software was a master stroke. 

I decided to go back through the Wayback Machine to figure out what Buddy has called itself over the years:

7/27/2007 – Application Developer:

Buddy Media is the leading developer of applications for the emerging new media platforms, including Facebook, MySpace and other social media sites. Within days of the launch of the Facebook Platform, Buddy Media launched 7 applications that have been highlighted in the application directory, added by more than 300,000 Facebook users and accessed by millions of others. Our current focus is on creating sticky, super viral applications that help users get more out of Facebook and other social media

 

6/15/2008 – Application network of its own apps plus agency business plus ad network

Buddy Media builds, promotes and monetizes one of the largest networks of engaging and entertaining social media applications on the web. The company reaches more than 8 million internet users each month through some of the top applications on Facebook and other social networks.

Buddy Media's applications include the largest loyalty program in the social media space -- AceBucks -- as well as leading social games like Mental Blocks, Sudoku, Pirates vs. Ninjas, Vampires vs. Werewolves, Cops vs. Robbers, Air Hockey, Pub Darts and others.

In addition to operating its own applications, Buddy Media helps large media companies and marketers develop, build, manage, and promote social media applications. It does so through a powerful rapid development platform and the Buddy Media Advertising Network, which provides advertisers an easy way to reach millions of users of the leading social networks. Buddy Media can build an application and drive 1 million users in just a few months.

 

10/26/2008 – Agency business and branded applications – No more ad network or mention of their own apps

  • Buddy Media helps the world's largest, most-trusted brands navigate social media, extending their advertising campaigns into the social world.
  • Through our unique Brand Advocate Process, Buddy Media plans, develops, promotes and monitors "app-vertising" campaigns, increasing engagement and interaction between people and brands.
  • Our engaging social app-vertisements —games, quizzes and contests— create social brand loyalty.

 

4/19/2009 – Still an agency

  • We help brands to engage their audiences by extending their advertising campaigns into the social world.
  • Through our Brand Advocate Process, we plan, build, promote and monitor social media strategies that include "app-vertising"
  •  

    12/11/2009 – Slight tweak: Now you use our tools to control your social media.  We’re not doing it for you.

    The Buddy Media Platform empowers brands and agencies with the tools and technology needed to easily control their social media efforts.

     

    8/31/2010 – Same thing

    The Buddy Media Platform empowers brands and agencies with the tools and technology needed to easily control their social media efforts.

     

    3/15/2011 – All in on Facebook, “Your Trusted Social Media Marketing Company”

    Social Media Platform

    The Buddy Media Platform empowers brands to manage Facebook Pages and engage fans! The world's best brands use our tools to manage and grow their social media.

    Social Media Software

    Social media is spreading like wildfire. You need the Buddy Media Platform, our cutting-edge technology to help you manage, grow and engage your Facebook presence.

    Facebook Pages

    Not just tools, but Power Tools for Facebook. Only Buddy Media gives you ALL the tools you need to keep ahead of the social media marketing curve.

     

    7/19/2011 – Same page, but Wayback Machine stops crawling pages

     

    8/15/2011 – The day that Buddy Media became a software company?

    What’s interesting is that on August 15, 2011, their Series D press release describes the company as the “social media management software of choice”. 

    Lazerow wrote "Our new funding ensures we have the resources necessary to accelerate the growth of our large, fast-growing software business.”

    The article also goes on to say “Buddy Media's technology is web-based (SaaS) software that provides companies global scale, secure architecture and straightforward administrative tools to connect with their current and future customers using the power of social media.”

    In fact, it’s this press release that, according to the Google News archives, appears to be the first time Buddy was described as a SaaS company anywhere.

    If you skip back a couple of days before, Crunchbase Intern Stephanie Szeto started making edits to the company’s Crunchbase entry, changing the description of the company from:

    “The Buddy Media Platform is the Facebook management system of choice for eight out of the ten top global advertisers.”

    to

    “The Buddy Media Platform is the Facebook management system for corporate brands.”

    Ok, so less about advertising, more about corporate clients…  “enterprisey” one might say…

    Its a week and a half later that an IP address used previously to update the entries of a Spinback founder (a company bought by Buddy) and a Buddy Media employee, as well as the Buddy entry itself changed it to this:

    “The Buddy Media Platform is the social media management software of choice for eight of the world’s top ten global advertisers.”

    Note that this changed happened the day after social enterprise software company Jive Software filed it’s S-1 to go IPO.  Seemed like a good time to be in the software business.

    Metamorphosis almost complete: Buddy Media is now a software company, but it didn’t become enterprise software until…

    10/7/11

    when the Crunchbase entry changed to:

    “Buddy Media is the social enterprise software of choice for eight of the world’s top ten global advertisers, empowering them to build and maintain relationships with their consumers in a connections-based world.”

     

    There you have it.  In just about six months, Buddy Media went from being a social media marketing company (agency) to a social enterprise software company.  Absolutely brilliant transformation. 

    The lesson learned here is that how you describe yourself to the world and to yourselves (your vision) has far reaching effects for how potential customers and acquirers think of you.  Clearly, Buddy Media’s transition was a gradual one in which it learned from doing client work what brands and companies wanting to go social needed—and eventually started productizing their offerings.  This probably isn’t unlike what other agencies do.  They build tools that make each client engagement more standardized, efficient, and profitable.  They try to move more of their revenues to be recurring streams than to be hourly charges to a client.  Few, however, will go the distance and call themselves an enterprise software company.

    Did Buddy start calling itself a software company before it actually became one, or did the name get changed after the transition to better reflect what they did.  It’s probably a little bit of both—but the sooner you can call yourself the thing you want to become, the better.  It will trickle down to tiny little daily decisions that, taken all together, will help move your company closer to, or further away, the direction you want to become.