Business Insider/Julie Bort
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison
On the surface, Oracle's acquisition of a startup named Compendium announced Thursday seems run-of-the-mill.
Oracle bought Compendium for an undisclosed amount. Founded in 2007, Compendium manages corporate marketing blogs and has customers like Bass Pro Shop, Cvent, Gymborie. It raised $2.8 million in angel/seed funding (and took out $1 million in debt).
Here's the interesting part: Compendium was founded by Chris Baggott, who previously co-founded ExactTarget where he was CMO until he left for Compendium.
Salesforce.com bought ExactTarget in June for $2.5 billion, it's largest-ever acquisition. CEO Scott Dorsey, ExactTarget's other co-founder, joined Salesforce.com.
Compendium is part of the dueling acquisitions between Benioff and Ellison.
Both companies are trying to dominate what looks to be the next big trend in enterprise IT. Companies spend nearly $4 trillion a year on technology, mostly through their IT departments. But Benioff believes that by 2017, the chief marketing officer will buy more tech than the chief information officer. So he's building out his marketing tech offerings to grab that business.
Oracle wants the CMO's business, too, but Ellison is also trying to knock Benioff off his game.
These two companies and CEOs are like a parent/child relationship gone bad. Benioff once worked for Ellison at Oracle. Ellison even gave Benioff the idea for Salesforce.com, the story goes. Ellison was also seed investor.
But Salesforce.com's main product competes directly with one of Oracle's software businesses (Siebel Systems). Cloud computing became popular, largely thanks Benioff. In 2011, the two friends had a very public split when Ellison cancelled Benioff's keynote at Oracle World at the last minute.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff
Benioff responded by publicly bashing Oracle's cloud tech.
As cloud services gained steam among enterprise computing buyers, Oracle found itself trailing the trend.
In 2012, Oracle ramped up its cloud business through acquisitions including Eloqua, which it bought for $871 million. Eloqua and Salesforce.com were close partners so when Oracle bought it, it gained access to a whole bunch of Salesforce.com customers.
The quarter after Salesforce.com spent a fortune on ExactTarget, Benioff announced it was in the middle of its first-ever $1 billion quarter, in large part due to ExactTarget.
Now, ExactTarget's cofounder and former CMO is firmly in Oracle's camp, via the Compendium buy. The cherry on top? ExactTarget is one of Compendium's (now Oracle's) customers.
Oracle and Salesforce.com declined comment on this story.
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