Adobe closing in on acquisition of Marketo for about $5 billion, sources say

The acquisition will help Adobe better compete with Salesforce, which got into marketing automation — for managing outreach to potential and existing customers over multiple channels in order to drive sales — with its $2.5 billion acquisition of ExactTarget in 2013. A deal would be Adobe’s largest acquisition ever, according to data compiled by CNBC.

An Adobe spokesman wouldn’t comment. Marketo did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A Vista spokesman declined to comment.

Marketo was started in 2006 by a group of co-founders, including Phil Fernandez, who was CEO through the company’s IPO in 2013. He stayed at the helm even after Vista took the company private in May 2016. Fernandez stepped down later that year and was replaced by Steve Lucas, an industry veteran of over two decades. Lucas was previously president of SAP’s platform and analytics group and before that was a senior vice president at Salesforce.

Eloqua, one of Marketo’s top competitors, went public in August 2012 and was acquired by Oracle four months later for $871 million.

— CNBC’s Jordan Novet and Ari Levy contributed to this report.