Corporate software systems are often anything but easy to use. To fix that, enterprise firms have started snapping up consumer startups.

By Michal Lev-Ram
February 20, 2013

Concur CNQR , the maker of travel and expense-report software, knows that some of its users have been unfaithful. Many have turned to free — and simpler — consumer-oriented sites to book business travel. So the company, based in Redmond, Wash., is taking cues from apps and websites aimed at the mainstream — by buying them. It shelled out $120 million for trip-planning app TripIt in 2011 and, this past November, announced a $150 million fund to invest in similar startups. Concur isn’t alone. Other enterprise-software giants are racing to acquire user-friendly software in hopes of keeping customers from turning elsewhere. (One exception? Cisco CSCO , which has divested itself of most of its consumer businesses.) Here are some bellwether acquisitions.

VMware buys SlideRocket

When: April 2011

Why: At the time of the acquisition, some 250,000 people had created more than 10 million online presentations using SlideRocket’s PowerPoint-like software.

How it’s being integrated: SlideRocket is now a supplement to another VMware VMW acquisition, e‑mail provider Zimbra.

Risk: Presentations aren’t central to the virtualization giant’s core business. SlideRocket could end up a questionable afterthought.

Amount: Undisclosed

Salesforce buys Manymoon

When: February 2011

Why: The social productivity and task management tool — think digital to-do lists — was one of the top apps on the Google Apps Marketplace.

How it’s being integrated: Salesforce CRM transformed the technology into an app called, which lets both consumers and companies track goals.

Risk: Salesforce has been on an acquisition spree. Integrating and maintaining so many new startup teams could be troublesome.

Amount: $25 million to $35 million (estimated)

EMC buys Syncplicity

When: May 2012

Why: The storage giant bought this cloud-based file-management startup in an effort to compete with popular services like Dropbox.

How it’s being integrated: EMC EMC offers Syncplicity’s file-sharing capabilities for customers of both cloud and traditional on-premises storage.

Risk: Dropbox already has over 100 million users — and the list of standalone competitors like Box and SugarSync is growing.

Amount: Undisclosed

Adobe buys Behance

When: December 2012

Why: Behance’s online portfolios for creative types, such as photographers, developed a loyal following of more than 1 million members.

How it’s being integrated: Adobe ADBE will fold this site’s social features into Creative Cloud, its subscription-based software service for creatives.

Risk: Adobe is a powerhouse when it comes to design software, but it is still building its social features.

Amount: $100 million to $150 million (estimated)

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