UPDATED 23:43 EST / APRIL 29 2015

Marc Benioff NEWS

Report: Salesforce has hired bankers to field takeover offers

Salesforce.com, Inc. is said to have hired bankers to field takeover offers after being approached by a potential acquirer, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.

News of the potential acquisition of the Software as a Service (SaaS) CRM giant saw its stock surge as much as 17 percent in trade during the day, before closing up 11.6 percent with a market cap of $49 billion.

The report wasn’t clear as to who has approached Salesforce with a deal, but company names being thrown around include Microsoft Corp., SAP SE, Oracle Corp., Google, Inc., and even the likes of IBM and Hewlett-Packard Co.

A takeover of Salesforce would be the largest takeover of a software company in history.

Salesforce’s main rivals are Microsoft, SAP and Oracle, and all three trail in the CRM side of the cloud business; any company making the acquisition would immediately become a market leader in the cloud CRM space.

Steven R. Koenig, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, told Bloomberg, “The company is not under duress; they wouldn’t be a seller under duress. It would have to be a motivated buyer who would be willing to pay a premium.”

Market consolidation

The potential acquisition of Salesforce comes after a frenzy of smaller acquisitions in the cloud CRM and marketing spaces, which included Salesforce itself buying other companies.

The acquisition of Salesforce would simply more rapidly drive the market consolidation we are already seeing now, be it previously with the giants of the space snapping up smaller and complementary startups and firms.

That said, Salesforce would be one big acquisition, and there would only be a few companies around with the cash on hand and the willingness to make the buy.

One report claims Oracle isn’t interested in making on offer, and while SAP isn’t out of the running, the obvious buyer is Microsoft.

Since taking over the show, Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella has pivoted much of what Microsoft does toward the cloud. And while there’s still money in its legacy brands, such as Windows (be it a lot less in 2015 given they are giving copies away), the cloud isn’t simply something Microsoft employees can see nearly every day of the year from their windows in Redmond, Washington, but the future of the company.

Salesforce would be a great buy for Microsoft, and finally give it a leading share in at least one section of the SaaS space.

photo credit: Mark Benioff via photopin (license)

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