Our Take: Oracle to Purchase Eloqua

Interesting news today on the marketing automation software front.  Oracle announced its intent to purchase Eloqua for $871 million, a 31 percent premium over the Eloqua share price on the day of the announcement. The deal should be completed in the first half of 2013. Eloqua, of course is one of Full Circle CRM’s key technology partners and we are enthusiastic about their offerings.

Of course this acquisition makes great sense for Eloqua investors and Eloqua customers.  Of the SaaS offerings in the marketing automation space, Eloqua tends to have larger customers which is a good fit for Oracle.  And with Oracle’s relatively recent cloud acquisitions of Taleo (human resources) and RightNow (Customer Service mostly), they are building a nice suite of cloud offerings.

Sirius Decisions isn’t necessarily too enthusiastic about this purchase.  (See Jonathan Block’s blog today.) But I was Marketing Director in Oracle’s DEC Products Division when we completed the first major acquisition in the company’s history of Digital’s RDB database in 1994. The acquisition was very successful and had a solid return on investment.  A few years later, Oracle made a substantial change in the company strategy and started on an acquisition streak that now includes 83 transactions.  Of course not all acquisitions were raging successes but the strategy to move into the higher growth SaaS software is smart.

Eloqua complements existing Oracle CRM on Demand and the RightNow customer service offering making Oracle more competitive with salesforce.com, particularly among large enterprises as they replace their existing Siebel on premise implementations (which Oracle also owns, of course.)  So it seems to me that Oracle is working to build a suite of SaaS CRM offerings that would make a nice upgrade path from Siebel when those customers have gotten a sufficient return on investment and are ready to make a move. It wouldn’t surprise me at all that Oracle creates offerings to make a very easy and smooth upgrade path.

Salesforce.com has some distinct advantages over Oracle of course.  Salesforce’s CRM offering is much more contiguous than Oracle’s which is attractive for customers and Marc Benioff’s investment in the Salesforce platform is making salesforce.com very sticky among customers. As for Marketo, look for a tighter relationship with salesforce.com.

Bonnie Crater

About Bonnie Crater

Bonnie is a 5-time VP of Marketing at Genesys, Netscape, Oracle (Network Computer Inc.), Stratify, and VoiceObjects. While valuing the creative side of marketing, Bonnie's real love is marketing operations -- measuring marketing investments and determining investment optimization. Now as CEO of Full Circle Insights, Bonnie is working to help fellow marketers get the data needed to succeed. In 2000, Bonnie was named one of the “Top 20 Female Executives in Silicon Valley” by San Jose Magazine. Bonnie holds a B.A. in biology from Princeton University.