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RightNow shareholders approve US$1.5 billion sale to Oracle

Oracle moves closer to gaining a range of "customer experience management" software to battle Salesforce.com

Oracle's US$1.5 billion purchase of cloud software vendor RightNow Technologies took another step forward on Thursday as a vast majority of RightNow shareholders approved the deal.

"Approximately 99.8% of the shares voting at today's Special Meeting of Stockholders voted in favor of the approval and adoption of the merger agreement, which represented approximately 87.0% percent of RightNow's total outstanding shares of common stock as of the November 8, 2011 record date for the Special Meeting," RightNow said in a statement.

Oracle announced plans to buy RightNow in October. The deal still needs regulatory approval.

Most likely, Oracle is more interested in RightNow's "customer experience management" software products for improved customer support, rather than its CRM application, where Oracle already has a widely used offering.

The RightNow deal has been seen as an attempt by Oracle to compete more effectively against Salesforce.com, which has its roots in CRM but in recent years made acquisitions to build out a customer support strategy as well.

Oracle has said it intends to position RightNow's portfolio alongside complementary technologies such as its Siebel marketing application and ATG e-commerce suite.

Earlier this week, Oracle announced second-quarter results that saw hardware systems product revenue fall 14 percent and new software license sales rise only 2 percent, leading to consternation from investors and a hit to its stock price.

While Oracle executives stressed that hardware sales will grow and newer products like Oracle Fusion Applications will boost software sales, it's also possible that Oracle could follow up RightNow with yet another big acquisition in order to maintain growth.

Oracle certainly has the war chest to make such a move if desired, with about $31 billion in cash and marketable securities on hand, according to its second-quarter filing.

Some observers anticipate Oracle will acquire a company in response to rival SAP's $3.4 billion purchase of cloud-based HCM (human capital management) software vendor SuccessFactors.

But working against this hypothesis is the fact that Oracle is already making Fusion HCM a main focus of its initial marketing wave for the next-generation software suite.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com


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