In some ways, the $360 million stock buyout could compete with sales proposal and quoting software like ConnectWise Quosal, Aspire QuoteWerks and other channel-friendly software companies. However, I sense that Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is looking far beyond the channel with this buyout.
According to a Salesforce SEC filing dated December 23:
"On December 23, 2015, salesforce.com, inc. (the “Company”) entered into a definitive agreement (the “Merger Agreement”) to acquire SteelBrick, Inc. (“SteelBrick”). SteelBrick is a next generation quote-to-cash platform, delivered 100 percent natively on the Salesforce platform, that offers apps for automating the entire deal close process-from generating quotes and configuring orders to collecting cash. Following the acquisition, SteelBrick will be a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company."
The filing indicated that Salesforce paid about $360 million for the company. The deal is expected to close by the end of April 2016.
In the Channel -- And Beyond It
SteelBrick's Configure, Price and Quote (CPQ) software is designed to help sales professionals to build customer proposals more rapidly. That automation, in turn, could help the sales professionals to close more business more regularly.
Also of note: Another offering variant, called SteelBrick for Communities, is designed for vendors with channel partner programs. SteelBrick claims:
"SteelBrick for Communities is an online selling platform that connects your resellers and distributors to your own sales processes and resources, and allows your channel partners to service their buyers directly."
In some ways, SteelBrick could compete with channel-friendly sales proposal and quoting tools like Quosal and QuoteWerks. But I doubt Salesforce's focus on that market segment will be too aggressive. After all, SteelBrick's market opportunity extends far beyond channel sales organizations. The company's Configure, Price and Quote (CPQ) tools are used in a numerous vertical markets -- many of which push far beyond the IT services customer base.