We did not wake up to an $85 salesforce.com (CRM) bid after Microsoft's (MSFT) Satya Nadella shook hands with Marc Benioff for the largest tech takeover of our time. We did not see more than $50 billion go to from one of the most conservative companies in tech land to one of the most aggressive -- and, yes, expensive on any metric -- corporations on Earth. We didn't see Microsoft go from being a company with big ambitions in the cloud to being the biggest cloud company in the world.
But here is what we did see: credence.
For years, for literally more than 1000% of a gain, I have said that salesforece.com is the most important game-changing force out there, a company more committed to social, mobile, cloud, connectivity and now artificial intelligence than any in the firmament. I have said that Marc Benioff isn't just a visionary; he's a cold, tough businessman who has a warm heart for family, charities and friends, but that he's viciously competitive. Against whom? How about against SAP (SAP), Microsoft, Oracle (ORCL) and IBM (IBM).
And yesterday at 2:40, what happened? We heard that salesforce.com had been contacted by someone or, for that matter, potentially several companies, to be acquired and that it had hired bankers to be able to evaluate the opportunity.
Suddenly all of the companies that I have said that salesforce.com is crushing in this field, all the ones that it was more nimble than, faster, tougher, smarter than, were after it.
And no one said "Wait a second, don't you know that salesforce.com is an overvalued house of cards? Don't you understand how ridiculous this all is, because even though it was the fastest software company to one billion in sales in a given year, and two billion then three billion, four billion and now five billion, it was never going to be traditionally profitable and was just a profligate grow-at-all-costs company that nobody 'really' trusted and everyone was confident would be beaten in the end?"
It didn't matter how many of the biggest of the big customers it won over, or how major corporations had fled from their traditional suppliers -- and I mean major, like Honeywell (HON), 3M (MMM), Coca Cola (KO), General Electric (GE) -- salesforce.com was always going to succumb to Microsoft or Oracle or IBM in the end, and those who owned the stock would be bitterly disappointed.
And now, here we are, all not in disbelief, but in total belief that we would wake up to read about how Benioff had sold his company to one of these companies that for so long dismissed what he did.
Now, you could say, "how could we not believe it could happen? Didn't Oracle just raise a ton of dough to make an acquisition?" Or "didn't Benioff just sit down with Satya Nadella?" Or "didn't IBM say it wanted to be much bigger in the cloud quickly?"
Yes, those all did happen. However, Oracle and salesforce.com are mortal enemies. Why would Benioff want to join forces with Mark Hurd? IBM? It has said over and over again that it is trying to make small bolt-on acquisitions to get to be a bigger cloud company.
Microsoft? OK, this one is trickier. It could do it. The company's committed to a $20 billion cloud revenue figure a few years out. It will be hard to do so unless they buy a company like salesforce.com or they re-classify a lot of income as cloud. In fact, it's pretty impossible otherwise, at least at this pace.
And, by the way, do they really want that 60-storey tower that Benioff is building in downtown San Francisco to house his burgeoning staff?
But let's not get away from the big picture here. From now on, after yesterday, I never want to hear from anyone that salesforce.com isn't a real company doing real technology to change the way enterprises think. I do want to hear that it is the best and most valued in its class.
Because that's what it is, and that's what it deserves, and yesterday's trading action should convince even the most mean-spirited of doubters that's the case.