Today Bloomberg was atwitter with the rumor that Salesforce is in talks with bankers about possible tender offers from some big companies in the industry. Aside from wondering if there’s any validity to the speculation does it or would it make any sense?
For starters, Salesforce has a market cap north of $50 billion and buyouts command a premium so we’re looking for someone with deep pockets. Regardless of pockets, Oracle, Microsoft, and SAP have their own cloud projects and while any of them could afford the deal, would they contemplate throwing away their other investments? Ordinarily I’d dismiss a sunk-cost argument as illogical but we’re talking about a lot of money.
IBM could do the deal too and they need a future. Right now they’re buying back stock to keep their share price up and because they don’t have much else to spend their war chest on. Salesforce would be good for soaking up some of their cash. Ditto the others on the list.
Salesforce has a commanding lead in business software because while others were too timid to go after things like cloud, social, mobile, and IoT, Salesforce jumped in and made markets. Their future is full of all the new markets they’re going after and it ain’t small.
From that perspective, I wonder if the Justice Department would want to weigh in on an acquisition. Despite there being other vendors in the space, Salesforce occupies a unique place as the innovator. Can we really expect one of the possible suitors to be as aggressive with Salesforce and new markets as Benioff and company? Me thinks not.
That said though nothing is forever and Salesforce has had a great run. Murphy’s Law would suggest that someone could come in and mess it up.