Vocus buys startup North Social

LANHAM, MD: Vocus continued its shopping spree by purchasing startup North Social, maker of software that helps brands create and manage Facebook pages, for $7 million in cash.

LANHAM, MD:  Vocus continued its shopping spree by purchasing startup North Social, maker of software that helps brands create and manage Facebook pages, for $7 million in cash.

The Oakland, CA-based startup launched May of last year, and since then has signed about 1,300 monthly subscribers. “They are growing like a weed,” said Vocus chief operating officer Bill Wagner.

For Vocus, the acquisition bolsters its digital PR and marketing products. “We realize that everyone is going to be using Facebook to reach customers, and we want to be a part of that,” said Wagner. “We looked at the landscape…we have to evolve or we are going to end where the clippings services are now in ten years.”

North Social's service also gives Vocus the ability to put forward a social media PR offering to small businesses that may want to dabble on Facebook for marketing, he said. North Social competitors include Buddy Media and Involver.

Leadership at North Social will remain in place. The company has less than five employees, and its revenue was not disclosed. The final purchase price of the company could climb to $25 million over the next 24 months depending if certain milestones are met.

For North Social, the acquisition gives it the marketing and sales muscle a company of Vocus's size can offer. “They were looking for someone with our distribution. That's what they loved about slotting with us,” said Wagner.

In roughly the last year, Vocus has purchased five companies, including the Twitter service Engine 140, France-based Datapress, BDL Media in China, and Help a Reporter Out (HARO).

Earlier this month Vocus reported $96.8 million in revenue for 2010, a 14% increase from 2009, but profit was down roughly $1 million from the previous year.

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