The Microsoft-Salesforce ping-pong game continues

The latest news is in: Microsoft is not considering a purchase of Salesforce, according to a Reuters report published Thursday night.

The reason for Microsoft’s alleged non-interest? With a market cap of $49 billion, Salesforce would be too rich for Microsoft’s blood, according to these sources. Though let’s face it: Microsoft (MSFT), with more than $92 billion in cash, could afford almost anything if it really wanted it.

The report, the latest in a series of back-and-forth stories, cited (what else?) two unnamed sources familiar with the matter. Neither company would comment on any of the stories.

Talk of a potential acquisition of (CRM) has continued for more than a week, forcing a halt to trading on Salesforce shares on Wednesday.

Bloomberg kicked all this off last week by reporting that Salesforce had hired an investment bank to evaluate possible offers. It upped the ante Tuesday with its story that Microsoft was evaluating a “possible bid” for Salesforce.

This would be huge news for a number of reasons. First, San Francisco-based Salesforce leads the market in sales of rentable business applications, especially customer relationship management (CRM) applications. Microsoft is also in that market, having played catchup to Salesforce for the past decade. A combination of those two companies could thus raise regulatory concerns.

Salesforce pioneered the software-as-a-service model in which companies rent applications from a vendor that handles all the updates and maintenance on its own servers or cloud. Since its founding in 1999, all of the other enterprise software companies including Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP have been rushing to move more of their sales to that model.

Salesforce is hugely successful by many metrics, it has tons of big business customers, but it loses money

Both companies have repeatedly refused comments on the report. Earlier this week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella added his non-comment to the mix.

Talk has focused mostly on Microsoft as the likely bidder. And the list of companies with the resources to buy Salesforce is short. Two of them seemingly took themselves out of the running. Tuesday, SAP CEO Bill McDermott denied any interest on SAP’s part telling journalists at a trade event. SAP has “never bought something that was impaired and in decline,” the SAP executive said. “We have zero interest in”

That came a few days after Oracle co-president Safra Catz said Oracle is likewise uninterested, although CEO Marc Benioff is a former Oracle exec, and a long0time friend/rival of Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison. But Oracle has been known to reverse course in the past.

So the latest is that Microsoft is not interested in Salesforce. Tomorrow could be another story.

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