Salesforce.com to file for IPO

The CRM company is set to file for an initial public offering, an important step for the post-bubble tech market.

The CRM company is set to file for an initial public offering, an important step for the post-bubble tech market.

Salesforce.com, one of the most talked-about software companies of recent times, has filed for an initial public offering with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The company is known for its customer relationship management (CRM) offering provided on a hosted basis. For a software company its message has ironically been one of 'anti-software', claiming most companies are better off renting CRM, salesforce automation and other software from a specialist provider.

AMR Research has forecast the CRM market will be worth US$10.8bn in 2004.

Morgan Stanley has been chosen to lead the IPO, acting as sole book runner, Salesforce.com said in a statement. Co-managing the flotation will be Deutsche Bank Securities, UBS Securities, Wachovia Capital Markets and William Blair & Company.

An IPO share price has yet to be set but it is thought the IPO could raise around US$115m.

A registration statement filed with the SEC has not yet become effective and Morgan Stanley has yet to produce a preliminary prospectus.

However, Salesforce.com has long been pencilled in as one of the top technology IPO prospects for 2004. A buzz has been created -- similar to that around search engine giant Google -- which even threatens to overshadow other offerings in a post-dot-com, still timid IPO market.

One VC advisor recently told silicon.com: "Salesforce.com, when it floats, will probably be the turning point for the tech industry."

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff set up the company after spending 13 years at Oracle and a number of other top executives have moved across from rival Siebel, which is the biggest CRM vendor and now competes with its nascent hosted offering Siebel CRM OnDemand.

Silicon.com's Tony Hallet reported from London.

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