As I was boarding a transatlantic from Boston my Tweetstream went crazy with the news Salesforce.com is acquiring Rypple and rebranding it Successforce. Larry Dignan thinks it's a 'splash' into HR.
In the back channels, some think this is great because it gives John Wookey, who will head up the new business (and who ducked out of SAP earlier in the year) a platform to build a formidable human capital management suite. Others think it is a kick in the teeth to long time partner Workday although I'm told that Marc Benioff, CEO Salesforce.com played down the Workday competitive thing.
But it is Arik Hessledahl at AllThingsD who gets closer to reality:
Salesforce says in its press release that it plans to relaunch Rypple under the name Successforce, which to me sure sounds a lot like SuccessFactors, the cloud-based HR software outfit that software giant SAP acquired earlier this month for $3.4 billion.
Here's what I don't know
How much did Salesforce.com overpay as it surely must have? The transaction details were not disclosed, Rypple raised $13 million. In this market a number around $100 million would not cause regulatory issues for Salesforce.com and provides a good turn to investors. Make sense?
What's curious is that Benioff likes to brag about how much investors money he spends on acquisitions so this must be small but a deal he could do very quickly, especially now we know how much SAP thinks SuccessFactors is worth.
Here's what I see
SuccessFactors is a registered trademark. Successforce doesn't exist but is being gestated. SAP will close SuccessFactors before Salesforce.com closes Rypple...err Successforce.
Renaming Rypple as Successforce is one hell of a poke in the eye for SAP and especially as it comes with the sting that Wookey gets to run the show. But...this is all it is - a spoiler that gives Wookey something to do.
Benioff is making a habit of this and it is a dangerous path to tread: hire a well known personality in the tech game and then figure out what they will do. In this case make a modest acquisition our rock star can call his own. Effectively, Salesforce.com becomes an uber incubator for enterprise 'stuff' that may (or may not) pay off.
This one might backfire. I would be very surprised if SuccessFactors did not at least threaten to sue Salesforce.com for passing off on its trademark. Others think SuccessFactors would be wasting its time but I disagree. The similarity between the names SuccessFactors and Successforce is too close and obvious for my liking. If for any reason the SAP/SuccessFactors deal falls apart then SuccessFactors is directly exposed.
In the alternative, if Salesforce.com is hoping that Successforce will benefit from some sort of halo effect in the near passing off then it is going to get a nasty shock. Buyers may at times be irrational but most of the time they know what functionality they want. Rypple and SuccessFactors don't really play in the same space ergo unless someone is into the idea of social HCM bits and pieces then as opposed to a talent management suite then...?
Commenters think this is a big deal but they are forgetting a few things:
So while the markets may prick up their ears and get excited, I'm not holding my breath. In fact I'm borderline bored (sic).
There's a caveat to this but it is way too complicated to consider in this post.