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Best of Breed

By John Pallatto  |  Posted 09-12-2005 Print

He also said he didn't believe SAP would raise strong objections because its product line includes integrated CRM components.

Speculation that Oracle and Siebel were talking about an amicable buyout have swirled since last March.

A number of analysts, including Richardson, expressed strong doubts that Oracle would spend billions of dollars to acquire Siebel after spending more than $10 billion to acquire PeopleSoft/J.D. Edwards.

Richardson said he reiterated this view to a financial analyst just 48 hours before the deal was announced Monday.

A Siebel acquisition made more sense for Oracle than a PeopleSoft acquisition did a year ago, said Sheryl Kingstone, a CRM market analyst with the Yankee Group in Boston.

"I would have preferred that it had happened sooner rather than later," Kingstone said.

When the two companies failed to announce a deal in April, Kingstone said she assumed that it was unlikely that it was ever going to happen.

Click here to read John Pallatto's commentary on recent market moves by SAP to chip away at Oracle's Project Fusion.

"Oracle should have bought Siebel before it bought PeopleSoft," because Siebel would have provided best of breed CRM applications that it acquired from PeopleSoft, she said.

"They really didn't need both companies. Siebel has a lot more strength in CRM. They are a leader in the industry and they have a lot more components, not just in customer service and support, but a marketing application" that is a market leader as well, she said.

Salesforce.com executives, lead by CEO Marc Benioff, were exultant about the news of the Siebel buyout, saying it provided further evidence of the success of the on-demand business model.

"Oracle put Siebel investors out of there misery today. We have been doing that for Siebel customers for years," Benioff said in a statement to his company's employees Monday.

"Oracle's strategy is simple. Instead of innovating, buy as much installed software as possible, call it all Oracle Fusions, and make sure it uses Oracle's database," Benioff said.

This will also it to try to maximize the revenue it generates from maintenance, license fees and potential upgrades, Benioff said.

To read Scot Petersen's column examining the challenges Oracle faces in wringing real value for customers and investors from its buyout binge, click here.

In this way, Oracle is following the same strategy followed by Computer Associates International Inc., which bought up a number of mainframe database and application companies to milk the maintenance revenue for as long as possible.

However, Benioff suggested that this strategy will backfire because rather than keep paying maintenance fees, "customers will look for new solutions and new providers."

Benioff also predicted that Siebel's On-Demand CRM product would be an early casualty of the buyout because it is the result of a joint venture between IBM and Siebel and runs on IBM's DB2 relational database.

"Oracle will kill it. Oracle does not sell DB2," Benioff said.

Next Page: Solving the integration problem.


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