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Only weeks after buying social media marketer Vitrue and a day after Salesforce agreed to purchase Buddy Media, Oracle has announced it is acquiring Collective Intellect, a real-time social analytics platform. The move further expands Oracle’s growing portfolio of cloud-based social services and signals the company is ready to compete head-on with Salesforce.

More Cloudy, More Social

There is little affection between Oracle and Salesforce, especially now that the companies are about to compete directly in the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) market. Oracle announced its soon to be Public Cloud at Oracle OpenWorld last October. Larry Ellison extolled the virtues of Oracle’s plans and referred to Salesforce’s popular platform as the “roach motel of the cloud.”

Weeks ago at the recent D10 conference, Ellison made a more subtle, but slightly startling comment that it was he that spurred cloud computing saying, “NetSuite was my idea. I called up Evan Goldberg and said, We’re going to do ERP on the Internet.” This, according to Ellison, was an early example of SaaS, and Salesforce.com co-founder Marc Benioff just copied the idea six months later, “in a narrow way.”  

Ellison wants to ensure that there is nothing narrow about Oracle’s offerings, and that means taking more to the cloud than traditional Oracle solutions like databases and ERPs.

Oracle has been racing to acquire social tools. First, the company purchased Vitrue a social marketing and engagement platform after considering, but passing on Buddy Media. Now Oracle has picked up seven-year-old Collective Intellect, which allows users to monitor, analyze and respond to social media activity in real-time.

Collective Intellect already has several big name customers like CBS, Walmart and Yahoo, and is now under the Oracle umbrella. It is unclear what level of control the company will retain over its platform after it is incorporated into the mother ship.

What’s Next

Although no official financial details of the Collective Intellect deal have been released, it is almost certainly in the hundreds of millions. Oracle and Salesforce know that Salesforce leads the SaaS market. However, both know the position is not assured long term, which is why Salesforce is matching Oracle’s moves and strengthening its social services portfolio.

It's unlikely that these companies are engaging in late night reactive shopping sprees. However, they are certainly watching each other closely and timing announcements to maximize attention. Oracle's turn is complete. Salesforce, it's your move.