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Ex-Apple CEO's Zeta Interactive raises $45 million

John Sculley
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
John Sculley

Zeta Interactive, the digital marketing technology company co-founded by ex-Apple CEO John Sculley, has just raised $45 million to fund the recent acquisition of Acxiom's e-mall marketing software.

The financing, structured in the form of debt, was provided by investors including GSO Capital Partners (a unit of Blackstone Group) and PNC Bank, Sculley said in an interview on Wednesday. Last year, GSO led a $125 million equity investment in Zeta at a valuation of over $1 billion, sources familiar with the deal said at the time.

Zeta provides cloud-based software designed to help corporate marketing teams find and retain customers. The New York-based company, which Sculley started with David Steinberg, has 1,300 employees (including from recent acquisitions) and clients ranging from PetSmart and UPS to the National Football League.

"Zeta is booming," said Sculley, who was Apple's CEO from 1983 to 1993. "We have very strong organic growth and are very profitable."

Earlier this month, Zeta bought Acxiom Impact to give marketing teams the added ability to engage in targeted e-mail campaigns. That followed the purchase in November of eBay's customer relationship management business. Zeta is bolstering its balance sheet to expand and snap up companies that can build its treasure trove of data.

The company is also trying to further separate itself from the exhaustive list of advertising and marketing technology vendors that have sputtered in recent years from excessive competition and fragmentation.

"Everybody in New York is for sale," Sculley said. "There are far too many ad-tech companies out there. You either have to be an acquirer like we are or an acquiree, or you have nowhere to go."