December 20, 2013, 12:10 PM

Oracle buys Responsys for $1.5 billion

Responsys will become part of the marketing unit that includes Eloqua, an online marketing company Oracle acquired a year ago. Oracle is responding to Salesforce.com acquiring Responsys’ top competitor, ExactTarget, this summer, one analyst says. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2014.

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E-commerce software vendor Oracle Corp. will buy e-mail marketing firm Responsys Inc. for approximately $1.5 billion, the vendor announced today. In addition to providing e-mail software, Responsys provides web-hosted marketing technology for reaching consumers on mobile devices and social networks, display advertising and other online channels. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2014.

Responsys’ technology will become part of Oracle’s Marketing Cloud, a suite of Internet-hosted software built around the Eloqua marketing automation platform, the company says. Oracle purchased Eloqua Inc. exactly one year ago for $871 million.

Although the deal to buy Responsys is substantial in size, Forrester Research Inc. analyst Shar VanBoskirk doesn’t think much will change for retailers. “This is about Oracle competing with Salesforce more than it’s about Oracle creating a great new marketing offering,” she says. “I don’t actually think the marketer gains much that it didn’t already have if it was an existing Oracle or Responsys client.”

Marketing technology provider Salesforce.com this summer purchased Responsys’ top competitor, e-mail marketing firm ExactTarget, for $2.5 billion. Though both companies have superior e-mail marketing technologies, Responsys might be slightly less desirable than ExactTarget because its technology is older, VanBoskirk says.

Moreover, she says Responsys doesn’t fill a clear gap in Oracle’s existing suite of e-commerce software. “Now Oracle has just another thing in its extremely heterogeneous portfolio of capabilities,” she says. “They are making a bigger cloud, but not a better cloud.”

The Marketing Cloud that Responsys will be part of is in turn part of what Oracle calls its Customer Experience Cloud that also includes web-hosted software for commerce, sales, customer service and social media.

“Oracle customers will benefit from continued R&D investment across the Responsys and Eloqua platforms,” says Thomas Kurian, executive vice president, Oracle development. “When combined with the full Oracle Customer Experience Cloud, for the first time, companies will be empowered to orchestrate individualized experiences that extend from marketing, to commerce, to sales, to service, to support.”

58 retailers in the 2013 Top 500 Guide and nine in the Second 500 Guide list  Responsys as their e-mail marketing provider. Top 500 retailers report Oracle provides them with a variety of e-commerce technologies, the most popular being site search, used by 87 e-retailers. Oracle acquired that site search expertise in 2011 when it bought Endeca. Top 500 retailers also list Oracle as a provider of the following services:  live chat and click-to-call (52), e-commerce platform software (47), customer service software (38) and personalization tools (32). Oracle acquired e-commerce platform provider ATG in 2010 for $1 billion.

ExactTarget serves 36 retailers in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide and 24 in the Second 500. Salesforce.com serves 8 retailers in the Top 500 Guide.

The acquisition news follows Oracle’s fiscal second quarter earnings results, announced Wednesday. For the quarter ended Nov. 30, Oracle’s total revenue was up 2% year over year, to $9.275 billion from $9.094 billion, the company says. Net income was down 1%, to $2.553 billion from $2.581 billion in fiscal Q2 2013.

For the six months ended Nov. 30, Oracle reports total revenue was up 2.2% year over year, to $17.647 billion from $17.275 billion in the same period last year. Net income was also up for the first six months of the fiscal year, by 2.8%, to $4.744 billion from $4.615 billion in the same period last year, the company says.

Responsys is No. 2 among e-mail marketing providers in Internet Retailer’s  Top Tech 2014, which ranks vendors by the combined web sales of their clients in the Top 1000. No. 1 is Experian Marketing Services. Salesforce.com is No. 5 and Oracle is No. 9.

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