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All companies with professional investors are always for sale. That’s doubly true once they file to list their shares publicly. The world can see all their secrets, and they market themselves heavily to prospective new investors.
It’s the perfect time for an acquirer to swoop in, which is what SAP did Sunday with its $8 billion acquisition of survey software company Qualtrics. It’s an astounding price for a company with annual revenues just shy of $300 million. In Qualtrics, though, SAP (SAP) is adding to its arsenal of applications makers built primarily to deliver their wares online, compared with the old-fashioned way of shipping their software in packages. Like rival Oracle (ORCL), SAP has been busy using its cash flow to add onto its core business software offering.
SAP also gets a seasoned entrepreneur and executive, Ryan Smith, the Qualtrics founder and CEO, who patiently built his company over a period of 16 years. Don’t miss Michal Lev-Ram’s Fortune profile of Smith from two years ago, where you’ll learn that the CEO is a big fan of Mountain Dew, among other details. Qualtrics will become part of SAP, which bought similarly positioned companies like SuccessFactors and Concur. The private company’s “exit”—by selling it solidifies the return it gets for investors in one fell swoop—will dwarf that of its Silicon Valley competitor, SurveyMonkey. That company trades for about $1 billion, and its shares have drooped since its September IPO.
Qualtrics is yet another win for the not-in-Silicon Valley crowd. It grew out of the rich if niche software scene in Utah, which gave rise to the likes of Novell and Omniture, successful companies both that, like Qualtrics, eventually ceased to be independent players.