After three quarters of anemic earnings, Siebel Systems pulls a rabbit out of the hat just days before its shareholders are set to vote on Oracle's acquisition of the CRM software maker. Revenue through the roof. Profit up the wazoo. License sales at nearly pre-dot-com-bust levels. Larry Ellison must be feeling pretty good about himself about now.With the shareholder vote scheduled for Jan. 31, Siebel went out with a bang in what is likely its last earnings report as an independent company, reporting signficant year-over-year increases in revenue (19%), profit (65%), and license sales (34%). This, after customers at its user conference in Boston last October expressed hesitancy about investing further in the company's technology before knowing what Oracle's plans were.
So, did customers suddenly decide that they loved Oracle's Project Fusion integration road map? Did CEO George Shaheen, the longtime board member who stepped in after the firing of Mike Lawrie last April, find his mojo as an inspirational leader? Or, did Siebel's sales force, the end of their era bearing down on them with no guarantees of being retained by Oracle, kick into overdrive?
My money's on the last, because it's simply the most logical of the possible explanations. And there's no reason Oracle should care one way or the other. Ellison bought Siebel first and foremost for its customer roster, and now that roster has been solidified by new commitments from existing customers and bolstered by dozens of new customers that signed on during the quarter. Of course, topping off the more than $2 billion in cash Oracle gets in the transaction doesn't hurt either.
Oracle's task now will be to do something with Siebel's newfound momentum. It's a long way from delivering a CRM app architected for Fusion, so it will be relying on Siebel's current technology to provide its near-future CRM growth. At least Siebel has managed to give it a bit of a head start. It's Oracle's ball to run with now.