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Salesforce Wasn’t That Into Buying Twitter, Documents Show

October 19, 2016, 3:05 AM UTC
Photograph by Getty Images

Salesforce may not have been as interested in buying Twitter (TWTR) as many thought, according to the Wall Street Journal. The gist of the Journal’s report is that, as of last May, Salesforce (CRM) was considering more than a dozen acquisition targets, none of which included the social networking company.

The report, citing an internal presentation allegedly obtained from Salesforce Director and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, instead lists 14 companies, including Adobe Systems (ADBE), Demandware, Hubspot (HUBS), PegaSystems (PEGA), Tableau (DATA), LinkedIn, and Marketo (MKTO) as possible candidates.

Also on the list was Netsuite (N), with a cautionary note that Oracle (ORCL) Chief Executive Larry Ellison owned 47% of that company. Oracle and Salesforce, once tight allies, have become much more competitive in recent years. Oracle announced plans to buy NetSuite for $9.3 billion in July.

Zendesk (ZEN) and Box (BOX) were also mentioned, but their CEOs had little interest, according to the presentation.

Conspicuously absent from that roster is Twitter. The material cited was apparently part of a trove of documents obtained by hacktivists DCLeaks a few months ago.

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The names on the list make sense. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has publicly acknowledged his pursuit of LinkedIn, which Microsoft is in the process of buying for $26 billion. Salesforce did end up buying Demandware for $2.8 billion.

Of course, things are fluid in the industry, and the fact that Microsoft swooped in to grab LinkedIn could have piqued Benioff’s interest in Twitter, which, after all has tons of users and could be a very valuable marketing tool.

Reached for comment, Salesforce Vice President of Corporate Communications Chi Hea Cho confirmed that the documents were real but downplayed their significance.

She said:

“Salesforce has a disciplined and thoughtful M&A process where we routinely survey the industry landscape across a wide range of companies, but acquire very few. The presentation is a broad survey of publicly traded companies in May 2016, and the appearance of company names on the list doesn’t imply Salesforce ever intended to acquire them.”

Powell could not be immediately reached for comment.

Another chart listed several “interlopers,” apparently companies that could interfere with any planned acquisitions. They included Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), Alibaba (BABA), Baidu (BIDU), Microsoft (MSFT), Facebook (FB), Google (GOOG), Oracle, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and others, including Adobe, which somehow made it onto both lists.

Note: This story was updated to reflect that the documents appeared due to a hack, not an internal leak.