Marc Benioff says the 'roaring' market has ended Salesforce's $5 billion buying binge

MarcBenioff2016Getty ImagesSalesforce CEO Marc Benioff

Salesforce famously went on a record shopping spree in 2016, spending roughly $US5 billion on acquiring companies like Quip (purchased for $US750 million) and Krux ($US700 million).

And Salesforce didn’t even fill its shopping cart up as much as it wanted, with a failed bid for LinkedIn (which Microsoft acquired for $US26 billion) and early, but ultimately abandoned, interest in buying Twitter.

But the buying binge is officially over, says Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

“The acquisition window has really narrowed. And I just don’t see any big acquisitions in the short term,” Benioff said on Monday in an iinterview with CNBC’s Kelly Evans.

Previously, Benioff had said that the 2016 spending spree was because changes in market conditions meant that Salesforce could snap up companies for more reasonable prices than expected.

Benioff’s full comments on the M&A market:

“Well, we’ve picked up some great companies last year, because the acquisition window was really open. But the reality is, because the market is roaring, the acquisition window has really narrowed. And I just don’t see any big acquisitions in the short term.”

Putting its shopping spree on pause is something that Salesforce investors are likely to welcome: Analysts credit Salesforce’s generally low stock price during 2016 on Wall Street fears that it might be preparing to close some kind of mega-deal.

Instead, 2017 may bring a new pattern of behaviour from Benioff and Salesforce — today, Salesforce announced a partnership with IBM to combine their respective artificial intelligence products, Salesforce Einstein and IBM Watson. It could presage a Salesforce that’s more inclined to partner rather than buy outright.

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