Salesforce.com rules out move for Siebel

The hosted CRM application provider is watching the situation at rival Siebel with barely concealed glee, but has dismissed speculation it is about to make a move for the beleaguered firm
Written by Will Sturgeon, Contributor

Salesforce.com has taken a shot at rival Siebel, which announced it has replaced CEO Michael Lawrie with long-term board member George Shaheen, stealing many of the headlines Salesforce.com had been hoping to make itself.

On Tuesday Salesforce.com ran its first Integrationforce Day event in San Francisco and unveiled a raft of new products but come Wednesday all the headlines in the CRM market were about Siebel.

However, Phill Robinson, global marketing vice-president at Salesforce.com, said the news was welcome and he would gladly trade a few lost headlines to not be in the situation his rival is currently in.

"Siebel are in a very difficult situation right now," said Robinson. "Mike Lawrie was a great guy but he must be ruing the day he let Tom Siebel talk him into joining Siebel."

"The problem is if you have a great CEO who meets a crumby situation, the crumby situation always tends to win," added Robinson.

Robinson is confident that Siebel's current predicament will speed up the realisation of Salesforce.com's most famous claim.

"It looks like we're going to see the end of software far sooner than we thought," he told ZDNet UK sister site silicon.com.

"There are an awful lot of people out there making buying decisions right now and this uncertainty is going to mean they defer those decisions."

Siebel has already been hit hard by customer delays. Earlier this month Lawrie announced the firm would miss its Wall Street targets due to a failure to finalise a number of deals.

"We had a sufficient number of deals in the pipeline to make our management guidance but during the last several days of the quarter a number of deals were delayed by customers. This was a combination of poor execution on our part, exacerbated by a challenging economic and IT environment," said Lawrie at the time of the announcement.

Robinson added that as Siebel nears a situation where, in his opinion, its only asset is cash in the bank it looks increasingly "like a target for acquisition" though he wouldn't be drawn on speculation that the internal 'promotion' of Shaheen shows less long-term planning than scouting around for an external candidate.

Robinson said it's unlikely Salesforce.com will be getting involved in any market consolidation.

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