Today, Oracle (s ORCL) dropped $1.5 billion to buy RightNow Technologies ( s RNOW) to help fill out its newly announced public cloud vision. Last week it bought privately-held Endeca to bolster its big data push.
Having spent more than $70 billion on 40 purchases in the last few years, Oracle co-president Safra Catz said earlier this month that the company would throttle back on “big acquisitions.” But, Oracle bought two companies after that and no one else expects the buying behavior to stop.
Oracle certainly has the financial wherewithal to buy what it needs: As of its most-recently-closed quarter, Oracle had $31.66 billion in cash. Oracle stock is doing well, closing today at $32.87, having recovered from a mid-August swoon to below $25.
So, as Oracle wants to fill out in its cloud strategy and/or tick off other boxes on its to-do list, here are some potential acquisitions that make sense.
1: NetSuite–More SaaS smarts
Since Oracle CEO Larry Ellison already owns a big chunk of NetSuite (s N), some think this is a no-brainer. NetSuite was built from the ground up as a SaaS provider of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software that runs on Oracle infrastructure, which also makes it a nice fit. While, some say Ellison’s partial ownership of NetSuite would be problematic, Oracle has bought Ellison-staked companies in the past–most recently acquiring Pillar Data in June.
NetSuite’s target audience tends to be smaller companies than those Oracle typically takes on, but some observers think to keep up its growth, Oracle has to get more aggressive in that market.
“RightNow made sense because Oracle and Larry Ellison is fixated on Salesforce.com (s CRM) and will do anything to disrupt them,” said one Wall Street analyst who did not want to be named. NetSuite could have a similar impact.
2: BMC Software–Management, management, management
With a market cap of about $7 billion, BMC (s BMC) would be another big-ticket buy for Oracle. But then again BMC could help Oracle bridge the management divide between on-premises software and the various cloud deployment models, said Dana Gardner, principal analyst for Interarbor Research.
With BMC aboard, Oracle could also fend off charges that it’s building a big Oracle-only hardware-software vault for its customers. The Redwood Shores, Calif. company is getting increasingly sensitive to charges that it wants to lock customers in and BMC could help it show that it will continue to offer interoperability with non-Oracle systems.
3: Informatica–Better, cleaner data
Some think Informatica (s INFA) long rumored to be in Oracle’s crosshairs, is still a viable target. Informatica would bring with it data integration and ETL (extract/transform/load) expertise. ETL technologies are used to funnel data in from diverse sources, put it into a format useable for the application at hand, and load it (typically) into data warehouses.
But one Wall Street watcher said if that deal made sense it would have been done by now. And it would not be trivial: Informatica has a market cap of about $4.77 billion.
4: Tibco Software–More middleware, SOA smarts
TIBCO Software Inc., (s TBIX) also leaps to mind as a possible fit for Oracle not only because of its strength in middleware and Software Oriented Architecture (SOA) technology, but for its cloud application platform called Silver. Tibco also boasts some pretty impressive financial services customers and reportedly rejected a Hewlett-Packard (s HPQ) buyout bid last year–something that might intrigue Oracle.
There would also be technology overlap there, but given Oracle’s explosive growth into new markets, there are not potential acquisitions that would not include some overlap. People also forget that Oracle ended up paying well over $7 billion for PeopleSoft’s HRM smarts while already fielding its own HRM software. Overlap does not seem to be an issue for Oracle.
5: Engine Yard–Hipper tool selection
Oracle has a ton of Java expertise by virtue of its buyouts of Sun Microsystems and BEA Systems. But if it wants to woo web-age developers, it needs to do more with the languages popular for that crowd.
“What about Perl, Python, Groovy–all those scripting languages? Salesforce.com bought Heroku, Oracle needs to do something there,” said Gardner. A company like Engine Yard would be an interesting fit and could attract these fast, young developers that might think of Oracle as a boring enterprise software company, he said.
Some of these aforementioned deals would be quite pricey but that probably doesn’t matter given Oracle’s cash trove. “Oracle can buy whoever and whatever it wants,” said Jeff Matthews, managing partner of RAM Partners, PLC, a Greenwich, Conn. investment firm.