Acquisition of the Week update from September 2005

Larry strikes again. Oracle today acquired Siebel for $5.85b, ending the CRM pioneer's (and many customers') pain. The acquisition is somewhat of a family reunion, bringing back Larry Ellison's protege Tom Siebel back to the fold. Siebel left Oracle 16...

September 12, 2005

3 Min Read
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Larry strikes again. Oracle today acquired Siebel for $5.85b, ending the CRM pioneer's (and many customers') pain. The acquisition is somewhat of a family reunion, bringing back Larry Ellison's protege Tom Siebel back to the fold. Siebel left Oracle 16 years ago after Larry dismissed Siebel's idea for software to manage business contacts a Bad Idea. Today's acquisition fills the CRM hole in Oracle's portfolio with software that has steadily become synonymous with Salesforce.com.

Salesforce.com CEO and Chairman Marc Benioff said in comments to his organization:

Oracle put Siebel investors out of their misery today. We have been doing that for Siebel customers for years.

He's got a sense of humor, I like that. This is a great quote. Whoever is writing this stuff deserves a raise!

Our announcement today at Dreamforce will accelerate that. It's the end of software.

Really, Marc, be serious. After all, salesforce.com is still just software, it's merely sold in a different way.

Client/Server software is being consolidated by Oracle just as mainframe software was consolidated by Computer Associates. Oracle's strategy is simple. Instead of innovating, buy as much installed software as possible, call it all Oracle Fusion, and make sure it all uses Oracle's database.

Interesting that you don't mention Microsoft here, Marc, since it has a similar strategy. While I agree that it isn't likely that MS CRM will be a big player in this space, they do have a product and the Microsoft name alone carries enough weight that perhaps you ought not forget they exist.

Now, the same thing that happened to Peoplesoft will happen to Siebel, it will die.

Well, I'd say Peoplesoft was killed. Saying 'it will die' makes it sound like it will just fade away like a cowboy into the sunset. Peoplesoft was systematically and coldly killed by a masked executioner carrying a big axe, and the executioner looked suspiciously like Larry Ellison.

Customers will look for new solutions and new providers. Employees will look for new employers. Siebel on Demand, a joint venture between Siebel and IBM, will be the first to be buried. Siebel on Demand is written exclusively on DB2 and Websphere and runs in IBM data centers. Oracle will kill it. Oracle does not sell DB2.

Wait a minute, Marc. Now I think you're superimposing dreams over reality. Oracle's unlikely to kill Siebel on Demand, unless Larry's been smoking something he shouldn't. The on-demand CRM market is the market that's experiencing growth, not traditional CRM software, so why would Oracle kill it? Oh, there's that little DB2 issue, but because it is on demand, Oracle can take its time to re-architect the back-end of the software and migrate to Oracle 10g without ever bothering a single customer. It's an unbelievable opportunity to showcase the scalability and power of Oracle 10g and increase the market share numbers for the platform all without having to sell to the customer, because they have no control whatsoever over what Oracle does inside the data center.

What It All Means

Salesforce.com would just love for some of its only on demand competition to just disappear, because it could eat up that market like a cat laps up milk. But Larry would have to be pretty silly to kill something he can use to not only market right now but also to increase the use of Oracle 10g, his undisputed favorite among all Oracle product lines.

So yes, this is big news, but it doesn't necessarily indicate the death knell of all competition for Salesforce.com. Oracle has the ability to execute and often lulls competitors into a sense of complacency that will bite them in the ass later if they aren't watching carefully. So watch out behind you, Salesforce.com, this race isn't over just yet.

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