By Brenon Daly
Announcing its third deal in just the past month, Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) said Monday that it will pay about $1.5bn for customer service software provider RightNow Technologies (NASDAQ:RNOW). The purchase brings the acquisitive software giant even closer into competition with salesforce.com, which has also used M&A to expand its customer service offering. However, true to form, the deals by the rivals underscore their wildly different approaches to dealmaking.
For Oracle, bigger appears to be better. The price of its planned purchase of RightNow, which is expected to close by early next year, is a whopping 50 times larger than the amount salesforce.com spent on InStranet back in August 2008. (Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) handed over $31.5m for InStranet.) While RightNow counts more than 2,000 customers, InStranet had just 50 at the time of its acquisition. And, finally, another key difference: Oracle is valuing RightNow at more than 6 times trailing sales, which is three times the multiple salesforce.com paid for InStranet.
Of course, as the chief consolidator of the software industry, Oracle is accustomed to making big moves. In fact, its pending purchase of RightNow ranks as only its sixth-largest purchase. (It has done more than 80 deals over the past decade.) As a point of comparison, we’d note that Oracle’s single acquisition of RightNow is larger than the $1bn or so that salesforce.com has spent on the 18 deals it has announced in its entire history.