And the Golden Tombstone goes to …

Contact: Brenon Daly

It’s time to once again hand out our annual award for Tech Deal of the Year, as voted by corporate development executives in our recent survey. For the second straight year, the voting came down to a tight race between two transactions. For 2011, Google’s planned purchase of Motorola Mobility just edged SAP’s reach for SuccessFactors. (Last year, Intel’s rather unexpected acquisition of McAfee slightly topped Hewlett-Packard’s takeout of 3PAR following a drawn-out bidding war.)

Both of the deals in the running for the 2011 prize certainly would have been worthy recipients of the Golden Tombstone. Google’s all-cash $12.5bn purchase of Motorola Mobility is more than the search engine has spent on its more than 100 other acquisitions and, beyond that, stands as the largest tech transaction (excluding telecommunications) since mid-2008. (Specifically, it is the largest deal since HP’s $13.9bn pickup of services giant EDS, which was voted the most significant transaction of 2008.) Meanwhile, SAP is paying an eye-popping 11 times trailing sales for SuccessFactors. With a price tag of $3.5bn, the deal is the largest-ever SaaS acquisition, more than twice the size of the second-place transaction.

The Houses of Morgan are in demand for on-demand work

Contact: Brenon Daly

It turns out that the advisers for the largest-ever SaaS acquisition are also the busiest in terms of restocking the ranks of publicly traded subscription-based software companies. J.P. Morgan Securities, which banked SAP, and Morgan Stanley, which advised SuccessFactors, are upper left on the prospectuses of no fewer than five SaaS vendors currently in registration. Between them, the ‘Houses of Morgan’ have a fairly tight grip on the sector, leading the proposed IPOs of on-demand software shops including Eloqua, ExactTarget, Bazaarvoice, Jive Software and Brightcove.

As lead underwriters, the banks stand to pocket tens of millions of dollars in fees from the upcoming offerings. Additionally, they are likely to build on that initial relationship through other advisory services for the companies. For instance, J.P. Morgan co-led Taleo’s IPO in 2005 and, more recently, advised it on its $125m purchase of On an even bigger scale, Morgan Stanley led the IPOs of both RightNow and SuccessFactors and then advised them on their sales, a pair of deals that totaled a whopping $5bn.

SAP looks to SuccessFactors for success in the cloud

Contact: Brenon Daly

After struggling for years to build its own on-demand offering, SAP plans to buy its way into cloud-based software, handing over $3.65bn for SuccessFactors in what would be the largest-ever SaaS acquisition. The deal combines the largest ERP vendor, which has some 500 million users, with the fast-growing human capital management (HCM) provider. However, the acquisition, which is slated to close in the first quarter of next year, does face some challenges. J.P. Morgan Securities advised SAP on the transaction, while Morgan Stanley banked SuccessFactors, after leading its IPO four years ago.

SAP, which is 30 years older than SuccessFactors, has consistently pulled back the targets for its Business ByDesign SaaS suite since it started talking about it a half-decade ago. The difficulty in moving more quickly into a subscription-based software model is underscored by the fact that even after it drops $3.65bn to make SuccessFactors its cloud-based HCM product, SAP will continue to sell its own existing on-premises talent management offering. In fairness, we had our doubts about SAP’s previous big deal – the $6.1bn purchase of Sybase in mid-2010, which thrust the German giant into a host of new markets, including mobility and databases – but the early returns from that combination have been fairly solid.

However, when we compare SAP’s two most recent significant acquisitions, we can’t help but be struck by one gigantic discrepancy: valuation. SAP is paying a price-to-sales multiple that’s roughly twice as rich for SuccessFactors compared to the one it paid for Sybase. SuccessFactors is projected to do about $330m in sales in 2011, meaning it is garnering a rich 10 times revenue valuation, while Sybase traded at about 5x revenue. Obviously, SuccessFactors’ projected growth of 57% this year goes a long way toward explaining that premium, as does the fact that it’s a subscription-based business with 15 million subscribers. But even when compared with Oracle’s recent purchase of RightNow, which went off at about 6.6x trailing sales, SAP’s move seems pricey. We’ll have a full report on the transaction in tonight’s Daily 451.

RealPage gets diluted on a deal

by Brenon Daly

Exactly a year after going public, RealPage on Monday evening announced its largest-ever acquisition. However, the $74m cash-and-stock purchase of MyNewPlace didn’t exactly go over with Wall Street as the property management software vendor might have hoped. The recently minted shares of RealPage dropped 11% on heavy trading, hitting their lowest level since just about a month after their debut.

The concern? The acquisition will lower earnings at the company, trimming non-GAAP net income at RealPage by more than $1m this year. Conscious of the dilution, RealPage opened the conference call discussing the deal in an almost apologetic tone, acknowledging that it paid ‘a lot’ for MyNewPlace. In fact, the purchase price of this latest transaction is only slightly more than RealPage paid, collectively, in its three previous acquisitions.

But on the other side, the deal positions the company to be more relevant in the lead generation part of the rental housing market, which is undergoing dramatic changes. During the call, the company estimated that it would take five years and an investment of $30-40m to build a business, internally, that would do what MyNewPlace does right now. So, RealPage billed the purchase as a play to be more relevant in the long term. After a year on the market, we would have thought that RealPage would already know enough about the myopic vision on Wall Street to not talk about delayed gratification from acquisitions.

Verint reaches for Vovici

Contact: Brenon Daly

Once pretty much a company that only offered call recording, Verint has expanded its business over the past two decades through a series of acquisitions. Most recently, it reached for Vovici, adding the startup’s online surveys offering to its voice-of-the-customer portfolio. Vovici will be slotted into Verint’s Workforce Optimization (WFO) unit, which accounts for more than half of the company’s overall revenue.

However, we don’t expect that Vovici will substantially boost the top line at the WFO division. That business runs at about a rate of $100m per quarter, while we understand that the Herndon, Virginia-based startup was generating somewhere less than $15m in revenue. Verint is paying $57m in cash, with a possible earnout of up to $20m if certain undisclosed milestones are hit. That makes it Verint’s largest acquisition since the $1.1bn purchase of Witness Systems in early 2007.

Bolting onto the PE platform

Contact: Brenon Daly

One of the knock-on effects of private equity (PE) spending hitting its highest level in three years in 2010 has been the emergence of bolt-on deals in 2011. Consider the recent M&A activity at Emailvision, an SMB-focused email marketing vendor. The company had been listed on the Euronext, although, candidly, European investors didn’t really appreciate Emailvision’s SaaS delivery model. So rather than stick around as an unloved public company, the firm sold a nearly 70% stake last summer to PE shop Francisco Partners. The transaction valued the overall company at around $109m.

Fast-forward less than a year since selling a majority stake, and Emailvision has already done one small deal as well as a more recent acquisition that it could have never pulled off without the deep pockets of its PE patron. Earlier this month, Emailvision closed its $40m pickup of smartFOCUS, which had been listed on the London Stock Exchange. The transaction added more than $20m to Emailvision’s revenue, which we understand should hit about $110m this year. (That would be nearly twice the level it was before it went private, with M&A boosting an already healthy 40% organic growth rate.) And the vendor may not be done buying. We gather that Emailvision may well announce another deal before the end of the year.

Heading toward an ‘Eloqua-ent’ IPO

Contact: Brenon Daly

A little more than a month after the strong IPO by a rival on-demand marketing vendor, Eloqua has taken its first significant step toward an offering of its own, according to market sources. We understand that the company has tapped J.P. Morgan Securities and Deutsche Bank Securities to lead the IPO, with a filing expected in a few weeks. Co-managers will be Pacific Crest Securities, JMP Securities and Needham & Co.

Eloqua has been positioning itself for an offering for the past few years, taking steps such as moving its headquarters from Canada to the Washington DC area, as well as hiring a raft of senior executives, most of whom have experience at public companies. Meanwhile, on the other side, Wall Street appears ready to buy off on marketing automation companies. At least the demand has been there for rival Responsys, which went public in late April and currently trades at a $750m valuation.

Responsys’ valuation works out to about 8 times 2010 sales and 6x 2011 sales at the on-demand company. Eloqua, which also sells its marketing automation software through a subscription model, is thought to be about half the size of Responsys. Assuming that Wall Street values the two rivals at a similar multiple, Eloqua could find itself valued at $350-400m when it hits the market later this year.

A very happy birthday to LogMeIn

Contact: Brenon Daly

Exactly a year ago, LogMeIn hit the public market with an offering that has done what IPOs are generally expected to do. The debut priced at the top of its range ($14-16), raised a goodly amount of money ($107m, from 6.7 million shares at $16 each) and has held up solidly in the aftermarket. In its year as a public company, LogMeIn stock is up some 80% from its offer price, and more than 40% from its first-day close – twice the return of the Nasdaq over the same period. It currently sports an outsized market valuation of some $660m.

As we were wishing the on-demand remote connectivity vendor a happy birthday, we couldn’t help but be struck by the fact that if LogMeIn were trying to go public just a year later, the offering would almost certainly look less attractive. We’ve noted that three of the recent tech IPOs (Motricity, Convio and TeleNav) have all priced below their expected ranges. (The discounting was fairly dramatic in the case of Motricity, which ended up raising just half the amount that it originally planned.)

Also, as we discussed in a special report on the IPO market, offering sizes have been coming down. LogMeIn was able to raise more than $100m, despite finishing the previous year at about $50m. (Granted, looking at a subscription-based company in terms of revenue – rather than bookings – isn’t the most accurate financial picture.) In comparison, Tripwire, which recently put in its prospectus, is half again as big ($74m in 2009 revenue) as LogMeIn. But the security management provider is looking to raise just $86m.

Who’s calling on Callidus?

Contact: Brenon Daly

Annual shareholder meetings are typically uneventful affairs, mixing equal parts of corporate glad-handing and self-congratulatory pabulum. The few bits of business that do get done are generally little more than corporate housekeeping, such as electing board members and signing off on auditing firms. And while that’s probably how the annual meeting for Callidus Software will go next Tuesday, we have picked up on some rumblings of discontent from the shareholder base of the sales performance management (SPM) vendor.

Shares of Callidus have basically been changing hands in the $2.50-3.50 range for the past year and a half. (On Friday afternoon, the stock traded at $3.10.) After going public at $14 in November 2003, the stock spent the next four months at around that level before dropping into the single digits, where it has remained ever since. At current prices, the company sports a market cap of nearly $100m.

With shares having been basically dead money, even as the market rebounded, investors are growing impatient with Callidus’ still-incomplete switch from a license-based software vendor to an on-demand model. Undeniably, the company has made progress in that difficult transition, but it has come up short in both its emerging SaaS business and its old-line business, particularly services.

That inconsistency hasn’t won it many fans on Wall Street, which is reflected in Callidus’ valuation. On a back-of-the-envelope basis, the company is trading at basically a $70m enterprise value, or just 1.4 times its 2010 recurring revenue (roughly $50m total, with $20m maintenance fees and $30m subscription revenue). It seems we aren’t the only ones struck by the rock-bottom valuation of Callidus. Several market sources have indicated recently that at least one would-be suitor has approached Callidus about a deal.

Our understanding is that Callidus has retained a banker and is still in the early stages of an initial market canvass. Obviously, that’s a long way from a completed transaction, which is the outcome many Callidus shareholders are hoping for. It’s also worth remembering that the company itself has a spotty track record in M&A. In late 2008, Callidus was lead bidder for SPM startup Centive, and stood to substantially accelerate its transition to SaaS with the acquisition. Instead, Xactly – a startup that’s run by a number of former Callidus executives – snatched away Centive in early 2009. puts together pieces on Jigsaw

by Brenon Daly

Just three months after raised $575m in a convertible note offering, the CRM vendor is dipping into its treasury for the largest deal in its history. The $142m purchase price for Jigsaw Data is more money than spent, collectively, on its previous seven acquisitions. (Add to that, there’s a potential $14m earnout that Jigsaw could pocket.) Yet, even after it pays for this pickup, will still have more than $1bn in cash on hand. The transaction is expected to close this quarter.

We understand that Jigsaw finished up last year with about $18m in revenue, and indicated that it was expecting $17-22m in non-GAAP revenue from Jigsaw for the three quarters that the company will be on the books this fiscal year. According to our calculations, is valuing Jigsaw at roughly the same level that the target is currently valued by public investors, at least on one basis metric. is paying about 7.9 times trailing sales for Jigsaw while its own market cap is about 8.3 times trailing sales. (Of course, shares of the on-demand CRM vendor are currently changing hands at their highest-ever level, having more than doubled over the past year.)

For Jigsaw, the sale to its longtime partner also represents a solid return for its backers, who wrote the checks that funded the company’s growth to 1.2 million members and more than 21 million contact records. Jigsaw’s three investors (El Dorado Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners and Austin Ventures) put in a total of $18m over the past six years. Strictly in terms of money in/money out, that means Jigsaw is returning almost eight times its investment. Not many startups have been able to deliver those kinds of returns recently because they’ve typically been overfunded and exit multiples have increasingly been under pressure.