08:55 AM

Salesforce Raises Half-Billion Dollars - Social Media Companies Are A Likely Target

Salesforce.com [CRM] today raised $500 million in a private debt placement, with an additional $75 million to cover over allotments.

Steven E.F. Brown reported in the San Francisco Business Times:

Some observers have wondered why the San Francisco company (NYSE: CRM), which said recently that it has more than $1 billion in cash and near money, would take on more debt in this fashion. Acquisitions are one possibility.

Salesforce already said it might use the money for acquisitions. But where would it make those acquisitions?

The social media sector is one where I would not be surprised to see Salesforce make several acquisitions. In mid-November, I attended a meeting between Salesforce co-founder Parker Harris and top IT bloggers.

During the meeting Mr Harris said that Salesforce was looking at ideas on how to boost its revenue into the $10 billion range, from around $1 billion.

He said that Salesforce believes that social media in the enterprise is a larger business opportunity than CRM - its current business.

It would make sense that Salesforce make acquisitions in the social media space, possibly companies with enterprise software tools already in place.

Cash would be handy to make those acquisitions since most are venture backed and investors will want a cash pay out.

Here are a few companies that might be Salesforce targets:

- SocialText, founded by Ross Mayfield, is based in SIlicon Valley and offers a broad suite of social media applications for large enterprises. It includes a private "Twitter" service, plus social networking, wikis, blogs, distributed spreadsheets, blogs, etc.

- Six Apart, founded by Mena and Ben Trott, based in San Francisco, is the developer of Movable Type, a popular blogging application. It also has a hosted (cloud) based service and most of its revenues come from enterprise customers.

- BrightIdea, founded by Matthew Greeley, based in San Francisco, offers a cloud based 'innovation management' service used by large enterprises to source ideas from employees, and also from outsiders. This is a form of social media applied to crowd sourcing ideas.

And there are other privately held companies that might attract the interest of Salesforce.

What's clear is that Salesforce could snap up half-a-dozen leading startups in this space and still have a couple of hundred million left from the $500m it just raised. It could quickly corner the market for social media in the enterprise.

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Please see:

2008Watch: BrightIdea - How To Manage Innovation

Six Apart: Blogging was Born During a Recession - Interview with CEO Chris Alden