Analysis: The Optimizely Acquisition Strategy


Following Episerver’s 2019 acquisitions of B2B commerce leader Insite Software and analytics and personalization provider Idio, the San Francisco-based unicorn spent its 2021 doing even more shopping. This time though, it was Optimizely and Welcome in their shopping cart.

Let’s dive into why these acquisitions took place, and what they say about the future of the Digital Experience Platform (DXP) industry.

The Optimizely Acquisition: What Did it Bring to Episerver’s Table?

With the headless and API-first movement well established, the future of agile web content management is marketer empowerment.

Since the turn of the headless CMS era — an era that was built by and for the developer community — marketers have been crying out for more autonomy and marketer-friendly interfaces, but within headless ecosystems.

A long list of headless CMS’ have spent the last couple of years heeding those calls, and Episerver is another name on that list.

Optimizely brought user-friendly personalization and A/B testing tools into Episerver’s domain, allowing marketers to experiment with their content in ways that aren’t exactly common in the DXP space (yet).

The name Episerver, though, is hardly a magnetic one for non-technical marketers. Hence the re-brand to Optimizely.

“After conducting thorough research and reviewing how we are perceived by customers, partners, and industry leaders, we have made the decision to change our name.

There are certainly strengths associated with the Episerver brand, but ultimately, the opportunities tied to the Optimizely brand name align with the growth objectives set out by the Executive Leadership teams of Episerver and Optimizely.”

      — Optimizely

With Optimizely’s user-friendly multi-variate testing functionality coming into the fray, it seems that Episerver decided that its more-marketer-friendly software should have a more marketer-friendly name to go along with it.

Moreover, Optimizely’s audience was primarily marketer-focused. The last thing Episerver wanted to do was alienate Optimizely’s 900+ customers, who could now take advantage of the broader Episerver web content management ecosystem.

A Warm Welcome to Welcome

More recently, Episerver, now known as Optimizely, confirmed that it will be acquiring Welcome Software. If you were on the fence about Episerver’s tilt towards the non-technical marketing crowd, this move should confirm it for you.

Welcome is an all-in-one content marketing platform (CMP), marketing resource management platform (MRM), and digital asset management solution (DAM).

Once this acquisition is complete, which is planned before the end of 2021, Episerver will have had an astonishingly transformative year.

In just twelve months, they would have added in features such as:

  • Personalization
  • A/B Testing
  • Email campaigns
  • Content marketing management
  • Marketing resource management
  • Digital asset management

And the most telling part? Each of the features above were drafted in from platforms that are marketer-focused from the very beginning, making Episerver a far more accessible platform to non-technical users seeking no code experiences.

As for what this means for the broader DXP industry, it’s clear that Episerver is banking on marketers being a larger part of technology purchase decisions going forward, primarily because their role in producing, testing, and analyzing web content is having a much-needed resurgence.

What’s your take on the Optimizely acquisition strategy?