Oracle Throws In The Towel And Acquires A Cloud Talent Management Vendor

The rumor circulating for the past few weeks has now been confirmed: Oracle is buying Taleo, a global talent management vendor, for $1.9 billion. This is just another — albeit important — acquisition in the strategic talent management space. All companies must have core HR systems in place, but now it’s equally important to look at the strategic part of HR: the performance, succession, career development, and learning components as a layer resting on top of the core. Companies want to retain, develop, and reward their employees and need these applications in place for efficiency and effectiveness.

With this acquisition, Oracle gets a vendor with these talent management components in a pure SaaS deployment model, which provides ultimate flexibility. However, the offerings in the suite are not equally robust. Taleo is known for its recruiting app; to become a suite vendor, it added performance, which has gotten mixed reviews, and learning, which is not best in its class. Learn.com, the vendor Taleo acquired for learning, works OK for the midmarket, but its functionality does not hold up well for large global and enterprise customers.

Oracle can’t buck the SaaS tide any more. SaaS is the preferred deployment model for talent management, and the large ERP vendors like SAP (finalizing its acquisition of SuccessFactors) and Oracle are now joining the movement. Oracle offers Fusion, but a lot of work still needs to be done to develop this into a full SaaS talent suite. Once this deal closes, watch and see how Oracle positions the Taleo offerings with Fusion Talent Management.

Oracle Moves Solidly Into SaaS With Taleo Acquisition

Oracle Corporation announced its purchase of Taleo for $1.9 billion on Feb. 9, 2012, signaling a major shift in its stance on software-as-a-service (SaaS) and talent management applications. The transaction is expected to close midyear 2012, subject to regulatory and stockholder approvals.

Oracle has long held a “we can build it better” position on talent management, learning, and recruitment applications but struggled to compete with best-of-breed talent management vendors like SuccessFactors (recently acquired by rival SAP), Taleo, Kenexa, Cornerstone, and SumTotal Systems. Oracle has been reticent to offer these (or any other) applications via SaaS, preferring a licensed/on-premises business model that provides early revenue recognition versus the deferred revenue model of SaaS.

In fact, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has been outspoken in his anti-SaaS stance in recent years, changing his posture somewhat with the Oracle Public Cloud announcement at last October’s Oracle OpenWorld conference. Meanwhile, the HR apps market shifted overwhelmingly to the SaaS (subscription-based) deployment model, which has become virtually ubiquitous in recruitment, learning, and talent management and is also growing in core HRMS via ADP, Ultimate Software, and Workday.

By acquiring Taleo, Oracle puts itself back in the game for SaaS recruiting and talent management. Taleo is a market leader in recruitment automation and has a competitive portfolio of products across performance, compensation, and learning management. The $1.9 billion deal price is more than six times Taleo’s 2011 annual revenues of $309 million, a high premium but substantially less than the $3.4 billion and 11-times revenues that SAP recently paid for SuccessFactors.

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