Bargains for SuccessFactors

Contact: Brenon Daly

Having organically built an on-demand business that cracked $100m in sales last year, SuccessFactors may be ready to do a bit of shopping. The switch comes a year after the human capital management (HCM) vendor told us that despite the company’s close ties to Jack Welch, it didn’t expect to do deals like the former General Electric chief executive.

But as valuations of smaller HCM players have been slashed, there may be some bargains out there that are too good to pass up, CFO Bruce Felt said recently. He added that the company has some $70m in cash and $33m in short-term investments. And in the fourth quarter of 2008, SuccessFactors generated operating cash flow for the first time, and the company indicated that would continue in 2009.

SuccessFactors would be looking to pick up technology, rather than make a large-scale consolidation move. (We would note that neither of the recent consolidation moves in the HCM market, Taleo’s $128.8m purchase of rival Vurv Technology and Kenexa’s $115m acquisition of BrassRing, has gone particularly well.) While SuccessFactors says it’s in the market, the company isn’t counting on deals to continue to boost its top line. It recently forecast 30% organic growth for this year. While that’s less than half as fast as it grew in 2008, it’s a pretty healthy clip during a recession.