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MessageGears acquires Swrve, adding mobile messaging to customer marketing

Barb Mosher Zinck Profile picture for user barb.mosher January 12, 2023
MessageGears makes a major mobile move with its acquisition of Swrve.


Enterprise customer marketing platform provider MessageGears is acquiring San Francisco-based Swrve, a mobile marketing company. MessageGears focuses on email and SMS marketing channels and some push marketing. With the acquisition of Swrve, MessageGears now adds mobile app marketing capabilities expanding the channels its customers can market on.

According to MessageGears CEO Roger Barnette, the biggest challenge enterprises face today is getting a handle on all their customer data in a centralized platform and using that data to personalize customer experiences across various channels. MessageGears works with companies such as Home Depot, Best Buy, and OpenTable to break down silos of zero and first-party data.

The firm pitches itself as unique among customer marketing platforms because it doesn't require customers to store their data on its platform. Instead, MessageGears connects directly to a company's data warehouse and works with the data to perform analysis and run marketing programs. Barnette says: 

The more data you have, the more customers you have, the more concerned you are about information security and data security, and the more cumbersome it is to shift larger and larger amounts of data across multiple SaaS martech vendors.

An acquisition to expand capabilities and market

The company picked up $62 million in funding late last year, announcing plans to continue to innovate its platform with a focus on mobile. At the time of the funding announcement, it also said it was planning international expansion and potential acquisitions. And it did indeed have an acquisition in the works that would help with all these plans.

Swrve is headquartered in San Francisco, but it has offices in the UK, giving it an international set of customers to which MessageGears now has access. Barnette said the two companies have a very similar customer base, working with brands such as Dominos, Emirates, and some of the biggest gaming companies in the world. 

Barnette explains that MessageGears was built on a foundation of email and has grown capabilities around segmentation and activation across marketing channels. It also added SMS and mobile push capabilities. But he said that one area it has not tackled from a development standpoint was creating a mobile SDK. That's where Swrve comes in.

Swrve offers a range of capabilities in its platform, including integrating with existing tech stacks and delivering experiences across channels. Where it excels, according to Barnette, is the mobile channel, delivering push notifications, in-app messages, and embedded content experiences. Combine those capabilities with an analytic feedback loop, and the direct data connection MessageGears provides gives marketers complete control over their engagement channels.

As to why the decision was taken to acquire mobile marketing capabilities versus building them, Barnette says that while the firm could have 'grown its own', that would have taken a few years to get to the level of Swrve. Acquiring Swrve gives the platform what it needs immediately. Plus, there's access to their portfolio of customers. The two platforms will be integrated in the coming quarters. 

One of the other capabilities that Swrve has that looks interesting is its TV and OTT capabilities. Along with SDKs for mobile apps, it also has SDKs for TV products like Roku and Apple TV. This is an area that is growing, and the potential for marketers is great.

Where is the funding going?

Barnette told me MessageGears continues to do well with a growing pipeline and interest. He believes their ability to help customers create a 360-degree view of their data where it lives is a big reason why. 

Part of the $62 million in funding went towards the Swrve acquisition. Barnette did not disclose the terms but said it was a combination of cash and stock. All Swrve employees are coming over to the MessageGears family. Some of the funds will go into integrating the two platforms, but they will continue innovating each platform individually. 

Also, MessageGears has been primarily focused on the US and Canada, but with Swrve, they are now a global platform and have ambitions to move into new markets, expanding sales and marketing teams domestically and globally.

My take

The decision to acquire a company with mobile marketing capabilities might make you think that MessageGears is worried email might be on the way out. But Barnette sees no signs of email slowing down or dying. Instead, he said, they are seeing marketers double down on their own channels with the economic downturn, and email and mobile are key. In addition, Barnette argues that it's the most effective and least expensive way to drive additional revenues from existing customers. 

If you think about how important it became to communicate with customers during COVID using digital channels, like email and mobile messaging, it makes sense that it would be equally crucial during economic instability. Maybe people are cutting back on spending, but it won't last forever. Brands that keep in touch will be top of mind when things pick up. And brands that continue to engage with existing customers have a better chance of having those customers continue to buy from them, especially if they personalize the experiences and provide relevant content. These are not times to slow down and wait. 

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