RightNow: A seller rather than a buyer

Contact: Brenon Daly

Ever since it raised $175m in a convertible debt offering last November, RightNow Technologies has been telling anyone who would listen that it intended to go shopping with some of that money. The move more than doubled the amount of cash on hand for the customer service automation vendor. And since RightNow was generating cash on its own, and had only a small share buyback program in place, it wasn’t like there were a lot of claims on the company’s treasury.

But with the $1.5bn sale to Oracle, RightNow’s M&A program has been snuffed out before it ever really got going. It would have been a dramatic change at the company, which had largely stayed out of the M&A market. Over the past decade and a half, RightNow has only tallied four deals with a total value of just $52m.

While RightNow was unlikely to ever be a big acquirer, we can’t help but make the larger point that the sale to Oracle removes yet another player from the pool of potential tech buyers. And that pool is constantly getting shallower, even just in terms of public companies. Along with RightNow, some 50 other tech vendors have been erased from the Nasdaq and the NYSE in just 2011 alone.