(CRM - Get Report) is buying privately-held Krux Digital for nearly $700 million in an effort to boost its consumer marketing and artificial intelligence offerings as the software giant continues to make M&A a key component of its growth strategy.

Marc Benioff's Salesforce revealed in a form 8-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday that it has agreed to acquire Krux Digital. The San Francisco-based software giant will pay $340 million in cash and another $340 million in stock for the venture capital-backed data management company.

Krux builds a cloud-based data management software that unifies and analyzes data to understand consumers' preferences. It counts Kellogg (K - Get Report) , ConAgra Foods (CAG - Get Report) , Mondelez International (MDLZ - Get Report) and Time Warner (TWX) among its clients. Krux's VC investors include Accel Partners, IDG Ventures, Sapphire Ventures and Time Warner Investments.

Krux will help Salesforce beef up its consumer marketing offerings by boosting its presence in audience segmentation and targeting with precision, company CEO and co-founder Tom Chavez wrote in a blog post Monday. Salesforce should also be able to boost its AI platform Salesforce Einstein, he added.

Salesforce Einstein, which the company introduced last month, is anticipated to be a big topic during the company's 14th annual Dreamforce conference taking place in San Francisco this week.

Salesforce has been an active acquirer as of late. The company picked up Demandware for $2.85 billion and bought privately held Quip for $582 million. Salesforce was competing with Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) for LinkedIn (LNKD) earlier this summer and is reportedly looking at Twitter (TWTR - Get Report) .

Salesforce has been aggressive at times, as exemplified by its comments last week to ask the European Commission to challenge Microsoft's $26.2 billion offer for LinkedIn on concerns that the tie-up would combine the companies' dominant positions in office productivity and massive data on business connections.

Benioff, for his part, has been championing Salesforce's goal of reaching $10 billion in cloud software revenue for years. Oracle (ORCL - Get Report) , which has also has been a busy participant in the ongoing software M&A cycle, tried to steal Salesforce's thunder earlier this year by also claiming the same goal.

On the other hand, SAP (SAP - Get Report) has been relatively quiet as a buyer compared to Salesforce and Oracle.


Software behemoths have been rushing to M&A this year following a market dip in February that brought down valuations for smaller peers. Coupled with the increasing importance of the cloud model--and growing firepower of tech-focused private equity firms--software has emerged as an active spot of deal activity within the broader tech landscape.

Still, some Salesforce investors believe the recent pick-up in M&A could signal a slowdown in its core organic sales growth, wrote SunTrust analyst John Rizzuto in a recent note, adding that acquisitions are "strategic and enhance its long-term growth framework."

Acquisitions will help expand Salesforce's total addressable market and put the company on offense for investing in new capabilities, he further wrote.

Shares of Salesforce are up about 0.5% Tuesday morning to $70.87.