There have been some extraordinary events in May that makes me feel it will be seen as a defining month for the cloud (as opposed to evidence of a second internet bubble as some have been saying).
Firstly, we had the Microsoft acquisition of Skype for $8.5B – more than three times what the previous investors paid only two years ago and around 10x 2010 revenues. Whether you think Microsoft overpaid for Skype or not (and only time will tell – see my post) what it does show is the huge value they placed on internet-based voice and video communications of which Skype is not only the clear leader but also the verb that’s used to describe it. It also showed the huge cash reserves the big technology companies have and how much of it they’re prepared to spend to stay competitive in world that is moving more and more into the cloud – a world that is in danger of passing them by.
Secondly, we had LinkedIn’s IPO delivering results that exceeded virtually all expectations. Their shares opened at the higher end of the expected range at around $40 and reached $94 at the end of the first day reflecting a 109% increase. The company’s valuation had reached almost $9B and nearly 20x current year revenues (expected to be in the $450-500M region). Whether this is sustainable or not (probably not) it shows the level of excitement and belief in the potential of social networking and, more broadly, of cloud computing.
Lastly, we saw Salesforce, the leader in the SaaS market, report record quarterly results with revenues up 34% to $504M and on track to be the first SaaS company to exceed $2B for the year. Marc Benioff, Salesforce’s outspoken CEO, talked about being a top 5 software company overall showing how cloud companies are now starting to measure themselves against the whole market rather than just within their category; he also had some sharp words to say about Microsoft:
‘Customers continue to want visionary products that give them a competitive advantage, not the me-too Zune-type products locking them into these old, proprietary, desktop-driven platforms that are dying off.’