In an amusing turn of events, the WSJ reports that according to a May 2016 presentation that, paradoxically, came from a trove of thousands of former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s emails that were hacked and published in September by DCLeaks, Salesforce was looking at more than a dozen potential acquisition targets that did not include Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), which CRM allegedly was close to acquiring only to change its mind in the last minute. Instead, the presentation notes two public companies, previously undisclosed, which may spike in trading tomorrow on hopes of an imminent Salesforce acquisition.
Titled M&A Target Review and marked “draft and confidential,” the 60-slide document identified 14 possible targets, from design- and marketing-software maker Adobe Systems Inc., which has a current market value of $53.7 billion, slightly larger than Salesforce itself, to Pegasystems Inc., a vendor of business-automation software valued at $2.3 billion. The reason Powell got the presentation is because he sits on Salesforce’s board of directors. Tonight’s revelation will likely open up an entirely new avenue for hackers to pursue, one which involves penetrating the email accounts of board members whose infrastructure may not be as safe and sound as the company on whose board they sit.
As the WSJ notes, “the presentation provides a peek into the kind of discussions around deal making that many big companies have, almost always in private. It was sent to directors ahead of a board meeting on May 20, amid a particularly active M&A period for the tech industry generally and in particular for Salesforce, which agreed to acquire nine companies for a total of $3.8 billion between February and September of this year.”
The presentation focused on Salesforce’s attempt to acquire LinkedIn, with which it was in exclusivity and which had the internal codename of “Project Burgundy.” Ultimately, LinkedIn agreed to be acquired by Microsoft in a $196/share transaction worth $26.2 billion. “We were closer than we realized—maybe a $105 cash plus $105 stock would have done it!” Mr. Benioff wrote, referring to LinkedIn.
But what is even more interesting, and what will be actionable information ahead of tomorrow’s open, is that the presentation also highlights two public companies which also have a project names “Sonoma” and “Tuscany”, and which Salesforce was either meeting in May or was considered “In Play.” A third project, “Champagne” involved the formerly public company Demandware, which Salesforce in June agreed to acquire for $2.8 billion.
The two outstanding companies which will likely spike ahead of tomorrow’s open due to the leaked document’s suggestion Salesforce may still be interested in acquiring, are ServiceNow, aka “Sonoma” a business software firm with a current market value around $12.4 billion, and Tableau Software which makes data visualization software, aka Tuscany.
There were various other companies listed in the hacked slide deck:
The leaked document also appears to indicate that some of the technology companies mentioned may have been for sale at the time. Like other companies on the list that have since been sold, Tableau is marked “In Play.”
Some of the potential targets have since been acquired by other companies. Marketing automation firm Marketo Inc. soon after the presentation said that Vista Equity Partners had agreed to buy it for $1.79 billion. Salesforce rival Oracle Corp. in June agreed to acquire NetSuite Inc., for $9.3 billion, a deal that still awaits approval by NetSuite shareholders.
And data-visualization firm Qlik Technologies Inc. later was purchased by Thoma Bravo, a private-equity firm, for $3 billion. Salesforce ultimately bought BeyondCore, a competitor of Qlik and Tableau, for about $110 million.
Salesforce clearly viewed some of the companies listed as long shots. Box Inc., which offers online file-sharing and collaboration services, and Zendesk Inc., a maker of customer-service software, appear on the list with the note “CEO has no interest.” Similarly, human resources software provider Workday Inc. is noted as “less interested.” It isn’t clear which parties lacked interest.
And just like that Wall Street has found a new focus for future “due diligence” – hacked email dumps.
Salesforce.com shares were mostly flat in premarket trading Wednesday at $72.80. Year-to-date, CRM has fallen 7.18%.
Meanwhile, Twitter shares were also unchanged in premarket trading at $16.83. TWTR has plunged 27.27% since the start of 2016 in very volatile trading, driven by repeated rumors and denials of M&A possibilities.