It is always hard to predict the future, but here are my 10 Predictions for the SaaS market in 2011, and they might just happen:
Blockbuster Subscription Software IPO’s
A number of large consumer subscription software players including Facebook, Groupon, LinkedIn, Zynga and Skype could really open up the public markets with a major blockbuster IPO (or IPO’s) in 2011. SaaS firms that look to get everyone’s attention with potential IPO’s next year include Cornerstone OnDemand, Workday, Marketo, Service-Now and possibly Plateau.
Major Players Merge to Form the Next Big SaaS Brand
So my prediction (which is a pure guess) is that SuccessFactors and Taleo finally get over their respective CEO ego issues and decide to merge. Sounds a little crazy, but when you really consider their product portfolios, there might not be as much of an overlap as you might think. SuccessFactors is basically a performance and analytics company and Taleo is a recruiting and learning (after acquiring Learn.com) company. They both have some additional components that could be plugged into to create a more comprehensive suite of CPM and Talent Management offerings.
This would also create a combined company with a market cap approaching (SFSF + TLEO) $4B and annual revenues in excess of $400M, which would be the second largest SaaS firm in the market, and a clear leader in their space. Another potential marriage might be Concur and Ultimate Software.
Oracle Finally Pulls the Trigger on NetSuite
It seems like most Oracle SaaS rumors involve the acquisition of Salesforce.com, and that may happen some day, but the more likely combination for 2011 is NetSuite. Larry Ellison is a major investor in NetSuite (early investor) and own/controls more that 50% of the company’s shares. He may come to the conclusion that he needs some real SaaS DNA inside of Oracle to help grow their Fusion business in 2011 and beyond.
SAP Throws in The Towel and Buys Leading SaaS Player
Similar to the realization that many other major traditional ISV’s will come to in 2011, that they are too far beyond in SaaS to catch up organically, SAP will buy their way into SaaS. The Business ByDesign project for SAP, by some estimates, has cost more than $1 billion and there isn’t much to show for it. I always thought that the Sybase acquisition was just a smoke screen to cover up how little progress has been made with BBD at their most recent Sapphire user meeting. Like Oracle, I think SAP reaches out into the market and purchases a SaaS firm to jump start BBD. RightNow would be an interesting choice since SAP wants to make a splash in the CRM market.
Master Brands Continue to March Towards SaaS
These big software companies are no longer just paying lip service to SaaS or the Cloud, they continue to catch up with the subscription software market transition that is happening everywhere. All sizes of customers who were battered during the recession are no longer interested in spending a lot of capital and time that has been associated with traditional software projects and are becoming increasing comfortable with SaaS. This shift in the Software market is massive and is going to take at least 10 years, and we are probably only in the second year (post-recession) of this shift. Continue to look to see what SaaS moves firms like Oracle, SAP, HP, CA and Infor make in 2011.
Continued Explosion of PaaS offerings
Look at Salesforce.com’s recent moves to expand their Force.com Platform-as-a-Service portfolio with VMForce and then buying Ruby on Rails provider Heroku for over $200 million. Beyond Force.com there are many other offerings here today and coming in 2011 including App Engine by Google, Apprenda, Azure by Microsoft, Corent, Engine Yard, Facebook, Flex by Adobe, Fusion by Oracle, Intalio, IPP by Intuit, LongJump, Nimbula, SuiteCloud by NetSuite, and Wolf Frameworks.
As long as traditional ISV’s continue to move towards SaaS, there will be a green field opportunity for all types of PaaS solutions. Look for several of these firms to be acquired in 2011 by larger ISV’s.
Salesforce.com Continues to Expand Beyond CRM
After attending Dreamforce this month, it was curious to see a number of Force.com firms offering ERP extensions starting to gain real market momentum. Companies like FinancialForce.com (they purchased Appirio’s PSE business) who are delivering a growing suite of financial and accounting applications, JobScience who continue to build out their Talent Relationship Management suite on Force.com, Less Software who is selling a targeted Supply Chain Management solution and even Remedy’s Service Desk offering, RemedyForce Cloud. If Salesforce offers an attractive exit for any of these firms or their Force.com products, like they did with Heroku, then it might be possible to do a quick roll-up of key partners to create a competitive Cloud-based ERP solution.
Interestingly this type of move might be triggered by Oracle buying Netsuite or Workday going public.
Fake SaaS Firms That Use Private Clouds Will Loose Altitude
Although Private Clouds might be a viable alternative for enterprises who are looking to leverage the economics of the Cloud, for software companies this type of approach will only provide short term ‘Fake SaaS‘ types of solutions. This type of business model of hosting single-tenant software was known as Application Service Providers (ASP’s) and none of these companies that emerged about 10 years ago were able to find a business model that really scaled profitably. Private Clouds will offer a short term technology transition steps for software companies who are moving away from just offering traditional on-premise software but this trend will really start to fade by later next year.
New Revenue Streams for SaaS Firms That OEM
At Dreamforce ’10 Salesforce.com announced that they are launching their new Database.com offering, a Database in the Cloud. What was interesting about this news is that Salesforce is really just reselling a private-label version of Oracle’s database technology. For Salesforce this is a unique way to take proven Oracle software, designed for on-premise deployment, and create a true subscription-based version of this product. No doubt that Salesforce will need to do some work to create a massive multi-tenant version of an ORACLE database and then deliver it as a service, but they are already doing this today through their Force.com platform. This could be a significant new revenue stream for both companies and look for other SaaS firms to try OEM’ing their software as a way to improve their CAGRs in 2011.
This should be an interesting year as the economy improves and the SaaS market really begins to gain some serious momentum. It should be a fun time to be in the Software business again.
Kevin Dobbs, Montclare, LLC