CAKE’s parent company, Constellation Software, is acquiring TUNE. The announcement yesterday means that two of the biggest network and partner tracking platforms will be under the same ownership. This is a continuation of Constellation’s strategy of rolling up SaaS companies under their Perseus Operating Group, with specific focus on performance marketing.

In a blog post, Peter Hamilton, CEO of TUNE wrote, “If you’ve been following along with our product advancements over the last 18 months, you saw heavy investment in our platform to become a true contender in the partner marketing category —  competing directly with the advertiser oriented incumbents. Today, we find ourselves with a seat at that table as the much more cost-effective, far more flexible partner marketing platform for advertisers, and with a pure SaaS approach.

“Our vision is different from our competition. Instead of saying affiliate marketing is dead or trying to cannibalize margin from affiliate networks, we strive to empower advertisers to work with more networks as part of their partner marketing portfolio, and we do not take a cut of the commissions. TUNE believes that networks are a critical part of the overall mix and require technology that is unbiased and openly integrated so that Advertisers can find the scale they need.”

A few thoughts:

  1. The plan is apparently not to immediately begin integration of the TUNE and CAKE platforms but for them to continue operating as stand-alone businesses while sharing some services and data. There is sufficient difference in business models between the two (CAKE being focused as a partner marketing platform, with TUNE being predominantly mobile-oriented), however it seems likely that data-sharing will provide significant client benefits over time.
  2. Constellation has a market cap of over $20 Billion and has over 16,000 employees, i.e. they have deep pockets and can be expected to continue to invest in this area. We can expect to see plenty of product development and probably even additional acquisitions. The COVID-19 recession has resulted in a buyers market for M&A players with deep pockets, so odn’t be surprised if we get a lot of these announcements over the next few months.
  3. The SaaS partner marketing/network platform/tracking space is vibrant right now. The traditional big players have been overtaken by SaaS platforms designed from the ground up to be cloud-based, with resulting improvements in realtime reporting and in scalability. CAKE’s dominance is under pressure from relative newcomers like Everflow, CJ has evolved into more of a “partnership automation” platform/marketplace following the rise of Impact and Partnerize (who are, in fact, both called out by name in Peter Hamilton’s blog post mentioned above), and ThriveTracker has been pushing Voluum into accelerated product development. And of course, networks with their own proprietary platforms such as Max Bounty and Perform[cb] are also busy implementing new features that address the needs of their particular verticals.

This is all great for advertisers and publishers in that they have miore choice than ever before, but it is a confusing space – look for the Blue Book to be providing more of our own thoughts on this arera over the next few months.