Oracle's cloud swallows RightNow for $1.5bn

CRM company joins Oracle in "aggressive" move...

CRM company joins Oracle in "aggressive" move...

Larry Ellison

Larry Ellison on stage at this year's Oracle OpenWorldPhoto: Oracle PR

Oracle is to buy CRM company RightNow for $1.5bn, as part of the database giant's rapid move into offering services via the cloud.

Thomas Kurian, EVP of Oracle Development said RightNow's cloud customer service products an "important addition" to the Oracle Public Cloud which it unveiled earlier this month.

"Oracle is moving aggressively to offer customers a full range of cloud solutions including salesforce automation, human resources, talent management, social networking, databases and Java as part of the Oracle Public Cloud," he said in statement.

Oracle has previously blown hot and cold on the concept of cloud computing. Its CEO Larry Ellison famously said of cloud in 2008: "The computer industry is the only industry that is more fashion-driven than women's fashion. Maybe I'm an idiot, but I have no idea what anyone is talking about. What is it? It's complete gibberish. It's insane. When is this idiocy going to stop?" Now, however, as the cloud has gone from buzzword to CIO must-have, Oracle has apparently decided acquisitions are the way into this market in order to compete with rapidly growing rivals such as Salesforce.com.

RightNow brings with it to the Oracle stable cloud-based customer service products, including software to manage customer interactions across contact centres, web and social platforms. Oracle says it intends to integrate RightNow's software with its own ATG ecommerce, Endeca search, Fatwire content management and Siebel marketing products, among others.

RightNow's customers include the likes of ABN AMRO, Comet, Thomas Cook and Vodafone.

The deal is for $43 per share or approximately $1.5bn, and is expected to close either late this year or early 2012.

On average, Oracle has announced an acquisition of more than $1bn every year since 2005: its hostile takeover of PeopleSoft that closed at $10.3bn in January of that year; 2006's buyout of Siebel Systems for $5.85bn; the 2007 acquisition of Hyperion for $3.3bn; the $8.5bn purchase of BEA Systems in 2008; and the buys of Sun and Art Technology Group, priced at $7.4bn and $1bn respectively, in 2010.

RightNow is Oracle's first purchase with a price tag of more than $1bn disclosed this year.

More purchases could be on the horizon. According to its CFO Safra Catz, when economic uncertainty sends prices tumbling, Oracle gets its cheque book out: "Then we are going shopping. If stuff gets cheap, it becomes very compelling for us," she told delegates at the recent Oracle financial analysts day.

"We do opportunistic shopping... the last time there was a global financial meltdown we went shopping and stole Sun Microsystems - sorry, bought Sun Microsystems - from [under] IBM."

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