The worst kept secret of the last week--Salesforce.com integrating Google Apps into its CRM applications and validating the search giant's Office killer is official--but in the grand scheme of things this partnership could be viewed as a precursor to future merger.
The basic gist is this (Techmeme): Salesforce is integrating Google Apps into its applications. As Phil Wainewright notes: Salesforce is embedding email, documents, online chat and integrated calendaring directly into its core sales force automation, marketing and customer service applications. Garett Rogers has been noting that Google Apps is becoming a thorn in Microsoft's side. Salesforce made the announcement via its blog overnight.
Add this latest integration effort together and you come up with the following: Google is serious about the enterprise and is looking for distribution of its office suite. Salesforce sees some synergy and a nice add on. Both companies view themselves as a platform-as-a-service player and could collide at some point in the future.
Wouldn't it make sense for these two companies to merge? I always figured Salesforce would wind up with Oracle--or even Microsoft or SAP. However, Google would also be a very logical acquirer. Last week, I noted that IT execs are very interested in what Google can do in their companies. They're just not quite sold yet and are wary of depending too much on Google's cloud. A purchase of Salesforce would get these IT fence sitters off the fence rather quickly.
To be sure, Salesforce wouldn't be cheap--its market cap is $7.3 billion--but Google could afford it, keep Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer up for a few weeks and take the software giant's best move off the table. I'd argue that if Microsoft really wants to get this Web thing down it should drop its unhealthy infatuation with Yahoo and buy Salesforce, Omnitures and a few others with its $40 billion plus.
This merger between Google and Salesforce won't happen today, but as you read the endless coverage about Office 2.0, the computing cloud and all the other stuff keep in mind where this thing may really be headed.
Also in case you missed it: SAP Chairman Hasso Plattner and Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff squared off at the Churchill Club a few weeks ago and caused quite a enterprise software dust-up.
We recapped the debate at the time and questioned whether Benioff was overestimating his company's platform. Here's the short version of the video in case you missed it.