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SAP借收购挺进云端

Michal Lev-Ram 2011年12月07日

企业软件巨头SAP斥资34亿美元,拟通过资产收购进一步挺进云计算市场。

    上周末,SAP宣布以34亿美元收购人力资源管理软件供应商SuccessFactors——无论如何,这绝对是条大新闻。

    第一个问题是,SAP耗费如此巨资,通过收购拓展云计算市场,有意义吗?(当然,SAP为何选择周六早晨宣布这笔交易也是一个问题)

    SAP的SuccessFactors收购价比该公司上周五收盘价高出52%。但总部位于加州圣马特奥市的SuccessFactors物有所值:这是一家在蓬勃发展的云计算软件市场上迅速崛起的企业。这家公司声称有超过3,500家客户,遍布168个国家,2011年第三季度营收同比增长77%。与此同时,SAP是企业软件市场的巨无霸,但在云计算市场却并非如此。虽然SAP也在尝试内生性地拓展云计算业务,但同时并不想错过通过收购拓展这一市场的机会。

    为什么?因为SAP(和其竞争对手)已清楚地认识到,通过网络交付的软件已经不再只是一股风潮,面向的只是捉襟见肘的的小企业。10月份,SAP的竞争对手甲骨文(Oracle)以15亿美元收购了另一家云计算软件公司RightNow Technologies。大型软件企业通过收购进入这个软件服务市场的趋势方兴未艾。还有一些公司也是不错的收购对象,比如总部位于加州普莱森顿的Workday,与此同时,市场上有意收购的公司也不在少数。

    过去,SAP在收购方面没有这么大的动作。但SAP已经进入新时代,两位新上任的首席执行官孟鼎铭和施杰翰正在踏步地将这家公司带入社交、移动和云计算软件领域。“云计算是SAP未来增长的核心。SuccessFactors的领导团队及技术与SAP实现融合将诞生一家云计算巨头,”SAP联席首席执行官孟鼎铭在上周六的新闻稿中称。“这项收购将有助于我们帮助全球的首席执行官们解决他们的第一要务——管理人员和人才。”

    孟鼎铭周一接受《财富》杂志(FORTUNE)采访时补充道,虽然近期内SAP不太可能再次进行如此大规模的云计算业务收购,但SuccessFactors的收购价是合理的。

    “我们要摘的是‘皇冠上的明珠’,这些业务本身或与SAP联手后能让我们在特定领域居于领先地位,” 孟鼎铭称。“SuccessFactors就是这样的资产。”当然,有些分析师并不看好这项策略——也不认同SAP的收购价。“如果SAP此项交易的战略意图是将SaaS融入企业,我们认为现实情况将有很大不同,”调查公司Cowen and Company的高级研究分析师彼得·戈德马彻在周一早间的报告中写道。“很难想象SAP的企业销售团队怎样才能成功地向客户传递这样一条信息:什么时候该使用企业预置型软件,什么时候应该使用SaaS。更难想象的是,SAP的销售代表销售SFSF 【SuccessFactors]】,因为它的价格只有SAP人力资源模块的一个零头。”

    Over the weekend, SAP announced the $3.4 billion acquisition of human resources management software provider SuccessFactors -- big news by any measure.

    The first question (besides why SAP (SAP) chose Saturday morning for the announcement) is whether or not shelling out so much money to buy its way into the cloud makes sense?

    SAP's purchase of SuccessFactors was a 52% premium to Friday's closing stock price. But San Mateo, Calif.-based SuccessFactors is valuable -- it's a growing player in a growing market for cloud-based software. The company says it has more than 3,500 customers across 168 countries, and recorded 77% revenue growth year-over-year in the third quarter of 2011. SAP, meanwhile, is the 800-pound gorilla in business software, but not in cloud computing. And while it's making attempts to grow its cloud-based offerings organically as well, it can't afford to miss the opportunity to buy its way into the market simultaneously.

    Why? It's now become evident to SAP (and its competitors) that software delivered over the web is not just a passing fad for cash-strapped small businesses. In October, rival Oracle (ORCL) bought another cloud-based software company, RightNow Technologies, for $1.5 billion. And the trend of larger software companies buying their way into the software-as-a-service market won't end anytime soon. There are still quite a few promising acquisition targets out there such as Pleasanton, Calif.-based Workday and plenty of appetite to eat them up.

    In the past, SAP wasn't so big on acquisitions. But this is a new era at SAP, where its two newish CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe, are taking bolder steps to get the company into social, mobile and the cloud. "The cloud is a core of SAP's future growth, and the combination of SuccessFactors' leadership team and technology with SAP will create a cloud powerhouse," co-CEO McDermott said in a press release issued on Saturday. "The acquisition will help us address the top priority for CEOs globally – managing people and talent."

    In an interview with FORTUNE on Monday, McDermott added that while SAP is unlikely to make any additional, large-scale cloud acquisitions in the near future, the price was just right for SuccessFactors.

    "What we try to do is buy 'crown jewel assets' that have attributes that either on their own right or in combination with SAP allow us to lead in a category," McDermott said. "In the case of SuccessFactors it was a one of a kind asset."

    Of course, some analysts aren't convinced the strategy -- and the price SAP is paying -- will work. "If SAP's strategic intention with this deal is to sell SaaS into the enterprise, we think the reality in the field will be very different," Peter Goldmacher, a senior research analyst with Cowen and Company, wrote in a note on Monday morning. "It's hard to imagine the company's enterprise sales force successfully delivering a message to its customers when to use on prem [on premise] and when to use SaaS, much less an SAP sales rep selling SFSF [SuccessFactors] for a fraction of what SAP's HR modules sell for."

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