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Zendesk moves into customer experience data with $4.13B SurveyMonkey deal

·3-min read

When Zendesk announced it was acquiring Momentive Global Inc. (the organization behind SurveyMonkey) for $4.13 billion last week, it might have felt like a steep price to pay, but it seems that companies are willing to pay a high price to understand what users and customers are thinking -- and that's what SurveyMonkey gives Zendesk.

Zendesk, whose core offering involves customer service, now has a way to get feedback on that service and collect valuable data about the interactions. In fact, company CEO and founder Mikkel Svane says it's all about using that data to create a customer intelligence platform. "We will deliver a rich, colorful picture of every customer so businesses really understand their customers and can build more authentic relationships," Svane said in a statement.

Laurie McCabe, co-founder and analyst at SMB Group, says the deal makes sense in the context of finding a way to get a better grip on customer attitudes. "Momentive gives Zendesk a proven, easy-to-use survey tool to provide its customers with another avenue to learn more about their customers’ attitudes and requirements, not just now, but in the future," she said.

"If they can make it easy to access and analyze blended data from these two platforms, it should provide their customers with a more complete view of individual customers and overall market trends," she said. And understanding the customer experience should help improve and refine it when need be.

Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research, says the ability to collect data and build a more complete picture of the customer is becoming increasingly essential to companies like Zendesk. "The current [thinking] is that you need survey tools to understand what customers, employees, etc. are thinking and feeling. And that's why Zendesk bought Momentive. If you don't have the data you need, start a survey," he said.

Brent Leary, founder and principal analyst at CRM Essentials, says that it might be tempting to compare this to the $8 billion 2018 SAP-Qualtrics deal, but he says while they have overlap, Qualtrics is a far more sophisticated platform, as shown by its market cap today of almost $24 billion, compared to Momentive's $4.1 billion purchase price. "Qualtrics is better understood as being an analytics platform with deep and broad capabilities beyond surveys, which is why its valuation is what it is today," Leary explained.

For some perspective, both companies reported earnings last Thursday, with Zendesk reporting $347 million in revenue up 32% YoY for a $1.38 billion run rate. Meanwhile, Momentive reported $109.4 million in revenue, up 24% YoY, putting it on a $437.6 million run rate.

From a financial standpoint, the company said that adding Momentive will push it to $3.5 billion in revenue a year ahead of schedule (in 2024) and it's anticipating that revenue will reach $4.5 billion by 2025, according to a company presentation about the deal.

The stock market was not kind to either company after the deal was announced last Thursday. When the market closed on Friday, Zendesk was down almost 15% and Momentive down over 8%. Zendesk is still down a bit this morning in early trading, while Momentive is up slightly.

In addition to SurveyMonkey, Momentive also includes a custom mobile survey tool called GetFeedback and a market research arm that is part of the parent company.

Both companies' boards have already approved the deal. It will still need to be approved by the stockholders at both organizations, who if the initial reaction of the market is any indication, might need to be convinced. In addition, the deal will be subject to standard regulatory oversight. If it makes past these hurdles, it is expected to close some time in the first half of next year. Momentive CEO Zander Laurie will remain with the combined company after the close.

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