Google buys Kiwi's social media company

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 09:37 01/08/2012
Victoria Ransom
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SILICON VALLEY SUCCESS: Victoria Ransom in 2010.

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Google has paid US$250 million (NZ$310m) to buy social media company Wildfire, which was co-founded four years ago by ex-pat New Zealander Victoria Ransom, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Google product management director Jason Miller confirmed the purchase but not the price, saying Ransom and Wildfire co-founder and partner Alain Chuard would be joining Google.

''They and their team have built a service that helps businesses like Virgin, Cirque du Soleil, Gilt Group and Spotify manage their social efforts across numerous social websites,'' he said.

''It's a platform for brands to manage their pages, apps, tweets, videos, sponsorships, ads, promotions and more, all in one place.''

The Wall Street Journal said Wildfire had about 350 staff.

In an interview with The Dominion Post in 2010, Ransom, then 34 and already based in San Francisco, said she planned to return to New Zealand one day.

''It is not in the immediate plan. We are full on building the company. But I'd love to think I would be returning there at some point.''

Ransom grew up in the Manawatu on a farm in the small village of Scotts Ferry and went to school at Wanganui Girl's College. She said Wildfire could have been based anywhere but that being in Silicon Valley had some benefits.

''This is the hub of the social media world. Our offices are just down the road from Facebook.''

At the time of that interview, Wildfire had 25 staff and had just attracted US$4m in venture capital from ''tier one'' venture capital company Summit Partners and angel investors in return for a minority stake in the business.

Its software had just been used to invite Indonesians to suggest what clothes president Barack Obama should wear and what he should eat during his state visit to Indonesia, which ended up being postponed.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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