Cloud Market Shakeup If Oracle Buys Salesforce

Is Salesforce up for sale? With a market cap of around $47 billion, the Marc Benioff led cloud CRM giant, would be a huge, albeit expensive win for any of the current suitors.

None of the rumoured suitors, which includes Oracle, SAP, IBM and Microsoft, have made many comments on the record so far, despite numerous media stories circulating.

Oracle co-CEO Safra Catz said that it would be interesting to watch it play out, saying “It’ll cause a lot of disruption in the market,” at an event on 30 April. SAP made a flat out denial, which is most likely the truth. Although Bloomberg Business noted on 4 May that SAP and Oracle are the “lead contenders,” few are taking a potential SAP bid seriously.

Former Financial Times journalist, turned Silicon Valley commentator, Tom Foremski, recently said his “money is on Oracle.”

Why Oracle?

Foremski cites several factors.

Firstly, Marc Benioff would be an ideal future CEO of Oracle, replacing Larry Ellison, who’s another larger than life personality and still a very active chairman. Benioff and Salesforce come as a single package, with Benioff being “cut from the same cloth as Ellison.” It would be a better cultural fit; not so much with Microsoft.

Oracle needs a leader who can replace Ellison, which makes Benioff the ideal successor.

Salesforce Tower

Secondly, for the culture of San Francisco’s startup tech community, Microsoft would be a difficult fit. Salesforce Tower would come with the purchase, which would become Microsoft Tower. Microsoft’s headquarters have long been in Seattle, and while they do have offices elsewhere than in Seattle, the sheer massiveness of Salesforce Tower would mean a significant influx of yet another legacy, albeit tech, community moving to San Francisco. It would feel like a clash of legacy tech vs approximately 15,000 startup tech.

Thirdly, Oracle has a better history with Salesforce. Ellison was an original investor. Benioff started his career at Oracle. Despite some shaky moments in their relationship, which is to be expected when companies are in competition, an integration seems more achievable than with Microsoft. Not forgetting of course that Salesforce is engineered on Oracle’s database technology; making a platform-level integration even easier.

Follow The Money (thank you, Freakonomics)

On paper, Microsoft is worth significantly more than Oracle, with a market cap of around $390 billion. Most of the Seattle-based tech giant’s cash and short-term investments, worth $95 billion are overseas, which would likely result in a hefty tax bill should it attempt a U.S. acquisition.

Oracle is worth around $194 billion. No doubt any buyer would offer a cash / equity deal.

What’s interesting, from a cash-on-hand perspective, is Oracle recently sold $10 billion worth of bonds. Oracle made another bond sale, also worth $10 billion, in June 2014. In March 2015, they raised their dividend 25%, to 15 cents a share.

Finally, consider Oracle’s 10 point ‘Cloud Plan.’ Analysts note that a Salesforce acquisition would neatly solve two points. Customers would finally have a ‘complete SaaS suite,’ which Oracle needs to offer ‘because application suites always win.’ It would also drastically reduce cloud integration time for customers, not only with sales and CRM technology, but a whole host of extra apps and tools.

Without a doubt this would make Oracle the market leader in the cloud, adding “$5 billion to $6 billion of sales to Oracle’s cloud portfolio, which now has an annualized revenue run rate of more than $2 billion,” according to Bloomberg.

Remember, right now this is just a rumor. All serious parties are currently in a very expensive game of high stakes poker, which will radically alter the whole market, no matter who wins.

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