Salesforce.com to finally go for IPO next month


19 Feb 2004

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One of the longest-awaited IPOs of recent times is finally set to happen. According to reports, business software firm Salesforce.com is understood to be planning to offer its shares for public trading on the New York Stock Exchange as early as next month.

In December, the fast growing CRM (customer relationship management) software vendor confirmed its IPO (initial public offer) aspirations by filing a statement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a proposed flotation. Morgan Stanley will act as sole book runner for the IPO and co-managers will be Deutsche Bank Securities, UBS Securites, Wachovia Capital Markets and William Blair & Co.

On Tuesday, the San Francisco-headquartered company in a filing to the SEC chose “CRM” as the stock symbol under which its shares will trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

It is understood that Salesforce.com’s CEO Marc Benioff will be in New York later this month to meet with institutional investors to gauge opinion that will enable the company to decide upon a suitable price for its shares. If the pricing process goes well, the company should be ready to float as early as March.

Salesforce.com was founded in 1999 by former Oracle executive Benioff who pioneered the notion of delivering enterprise applications via a website, often by dial-up modem, and billing companies ranging from the smallest to the largest of firms on a pay-as-you-use basis. This business model ran contrary to the multi-million dollar lock-in contracts which were the norm for traditional enterprise players such as Siebel and Oracle.

Salesforce.com currently has more than 93,000 users across 6,700 companies in 110 countries, including global firms such as AOL Time Warner, Dow Jones, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Nokia. Irish customers include Am-beo, Cape Clear and Jurys Doyle Hotel Group. In a recent issue of Business Week, Salesforce.com was listed in its InfoTech 100, along with Google, as one of the few tech IPOs in waiting.

Last year Salesforce.com turned in its first profitable quarter with US$19.1m in revenues. Listed as the world’s third most influential enterprise software applications vendor after Microsoft and SAP by UK magazine Computer Business Review, the company last year began implementing a €100m investment in new product upgrades as well as striking a major landmark enterprise deal with Dell.

The 50 people employed at Salesforce.com in Ireland are chiefly involved in software sales and distribution as well as maintaining the international content of Salesforce.com’s corporate websites. Within two years, the European operation has expanded consistently and has gained 11,000 individual users across Europe as customers.

By John Kennedy