Ever since Barack Obama won the US presidential election two weeks ago, Silicon Valley has started its own little parlor game about the incoming administration. (And make no mistake, the Valley is one of the most insular places on the planet, which makes these guessing games fun for those in certain zip codes.)
The specific gossip? Who will fill the cabinet-level position of CTO that Obama promised to create while campaigning. Early conjecture centered on Google’s Eric Schmidt, who recently replied, ‘Not it.’ Over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal reported that Oracle’s top lieutenant Chuck Phillips may be in the mix. (Phillips already did a stint of public service in the US Marines before diving into the public markets.)
We cite the rumor-mongering about Oracle’s president because we want to add our own bit of wild speculation: If Phillips leaves Oracle, a deal for Salesforce.com will move closer. We understand from a number of sources that Phillips has effectively vetoed a purchase of the on-demand CRM vendor, even though CEO Larry Ellison has indicated several times that he’d like to pick up the company, if just to jump-start Oracle’s own software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering. (An acquisition would also help Oracle widen the gap with rival SAP, which has stumbled with its own SaaS offering for midmarket companies, which it calls Business ByDesign.)
Of course, we still like Google as a buyer for Salesforce.com. That’s even more the case since the company has seen its stock price cut in half over the past year. (It sports a current market capitalization of $3.1bn, compared to projected sales in the current fiscal year of $1bn.) Wall Street will get an update of Salesforce.com’s business on Thursday, when it reports fiscal third-quarter results. Sales for the quarter are expected to come in at about $275m.