Google-Salesforce.com Union Hears Pros, Cons

 
 
By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-06-04 Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


When The 451 Group put out a report last week calling for Google to buy Salesforce.com, we wrote about it in eWEEK.com. Since then, a few readers chimed in to express their colorful views on the subject.

In short, people think a Google-Salesforce.com merger is either a great idea or the worst idea ever. OK, fine. How about Oracle buys Salesforce.com, then Google buys Oracle? How do you like them apples?

Ralph Smorra cheered Google for Salesforce.com, noting that Google Apps customers can pay $120 per seat/year for Salesforce Professional, which is normally about 10 times that price.

"It would be good if Google bought them, and could afford to sell it for even less, but they aren't only giving Apps away to Salesforce customers, as the article suggests," Smorra wrote.

No doubt pricing schemes would be an issue. Salesforce.com gets dinged for charging an arm and a leg. Google on the other hand is price-friendly. Would the twain meet?

One reader, GoogleUser, echoed comments we've heard from analyst firms such as Gartner and several industry analysts, noting, "Google doesn't get enterprise sales. Google is a good consumer company, but really doesn't belong in the enterprise. And it shouldn't, else it would spread thin like Microsoft stuck between Advertising & ERP."

Come now. It's too early to proclaim that Google doesn't "belong" in the enterprise. The company is 10 years old and has hired loads of people who "get" the enterprise side of things. Eric Schmidt, Dave Girouard and Matt Glotzbach all have a handle on business-to-business dealings.

Also, the analogy that Google selling in the enterprise is as bad as Microsoft trying to serve search to consumers doesn't wash. Microsoft has had years to get search right and can't. Google is coming with a SAAS suite of alternatives to desktop software. I like Google's chances in the enterprise, however steep the incline, better than Microsoft's in search.

Simon Gantley abhors the prospect, noting that the Google-Salesforce.com proposal was the dumbest idea since Time Warner bought AOL. For one, he wrote, "Google is built on 'Do not be evil,' while Salesforce.com's is like the Oracle culture on crack." We're not sure what that means, but it doesn't sound good.

His more salient reasons include Google's reliance on utility hardware and open-source software. Meanwhile, Salesforce.com runs on Sun mainframes, Solaris, Oracle, and so on. 

Sound familiar? It's the same reason some folks think Microhoo won't work because of the challenges associated with porting from PHP and Linux to .Net and Windows. My take is: They're smart people, they'll figure it out.

Gantley also noted that Salesforce.com is barely making money and has a huge cost structure to support, noting that when Microsoft Dynamics is available via SAAS, Salesforce.com is going to be hemorrhaging money. This is debatable. Microsoft has yet to prove its SAAS mettle.

"The only sane reason for a company to buy SF would be for the customer base," Gantley wrote. "But Google already has a customer base that is orders of magnitude larger." Let's not mix those up. Customer bases are apples and oranges here. Google has the consumer sector nailed but is no doubt behind Salesforce.com in the enterprise.

Thanks to the integration of Google collaboration apps with Salesforce.com's business apps, Google could become quite the power to challenge Oracle and Microsoft going forward in SAAS CRM.

So, who would benefit from buying Salesforce.com if not Google? Reader CAT suggested Oracle could benefit from a Salesforce.com union if it manages to completely digest its PeopleSoft, Siebel and BEA purchases. In which case, Microsoft would be the big target, not Google.

Let's flip that a bit. Say Oracle buys Salesforce.com. What if Google were to then buy Oracle? That would give Google superior on-premises and SAAS firepower with which to beat up Microsoft and SAP.

Now, I'm not even sure that would make sense, given Google's stated disdain for on-premises software, but if Google wanted to be a major enterprise app challenger, those two chess moves would make for an interesting match.

 
 
 
 
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