Eric Knorr asks an interesting question over at InfoWorld: Will Google buy Salesforce next?
It’s an interesting thought. Eric’s analysis is that if Google really wants to make any headway in the enterprise applications space, it better buy its way into the market. Google Docs has seen limited uptake, but Salesforce is used by literally thousands of enterprises, large and small. If Google really wants to go after the enterprise, it would be easier to use its extensive market capitalization to buy Salesforce and then build on that to create a robust enterprise SaaS / PaaS play.
I think Eric’s question is more interesting in the large. That is, rather than looking at this from a “What’s the best strategy for Google?” point of view, let’s look at it from the “Who will be the technology consolidator for cloud applications?” point of view.
In past technology waves, a large company has emerged as the consolidator of technology, typically by acquiring a host of smaller companies. In the PC world, this was largely Microsoft. Cisco did this well in the networking and communications space. IBM did so for high-end enterprise computing, and Oracle has recently done something similar for high-end enterprise software.
So, the question is, given the new world of Agile IT, clouds, and SaaS, who will be the new technology consolidator? Google is certainly a reasonable candidate. They know how to build cloud-native applications at scale and they have the market capitalization to buy their way into anything the want. As Eric points out, at $152B market cap, Google can swallow Salesforce ($10.4B market cap) without so much as a burp. What Google has in technical acumen, it lacks in enterprise savvy, and it’s reasonable to import that DNA via acquisition rather than trying to build it organically.
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