Enterprise software companies get user-friendly with acquisitions

Feb 20, 2013

Michal Lev-Ram has been a senior writer at Fortune since 2011, writing frequently about technology.

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 Do.com, 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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