VIDEO: Salesforce, Micrsosoft, LinkedIn, Intuit Keep Their Acquisition Plans Close to the Vest

In the wake of Salesforce wrapping up its acquisition of Radian6 Technologies for about $330 million this past week, the large enterprise software developer is not necessarily hunting for more deals.

That was the takeaway from Ryan Aytay, vice president of corporate development at Salesforce, who said last week that the San Francisco-based company is interested in acquiring social, mobile and open source startups, but it is not necessarily targeting a certain number for the remainder of 2011.

In the last year, Salesforce has announced or completed eight known acquisitions. In addition to Radian6, a maker of social media monitoring software that raised VC funding from BDC Venture Capital, Brightspark Ventures and Summerhill Venture Partners, Salesforce has also purchased Heroku, a provider of a cloud platform technology in a $212 million deal that closed in Q1. Heroku previously raised about $13 million from Baseline Ventures, Ignition Partners and others, according to Thomson Reuters (publisher of the peHUB blog). Radian6 had raised about $5 million from Brightspark Ventures, BCE Capital and others, according to Thomson Reuters.

Aytay gave his acquisition outlook while participating in a seminar I attended last week called “Startup Exits: Early Stage M&A” that was put on by the consulting firm VentureArchetypes in San Francisco, at the offices of Greenberg Traurig.

Below is a video of the 40-minute panel discussion, which in addition to Salesforce, included biz dev reps from LinkedIn, Intuit and Microsoft, as moderated by Nathan Beckord, principal and lead consultant at VentureArchetypes. (For more videos of the event go the Startup Exits website.)

The panelists chatted about what they look for in acquisitions and how they like to negotiate. They also gave a thumbs up to attorneys as being more helpful than bankers.

When asked about their acquisition strategy, none of the panelists committed to planning a set number of deals, but they each said they would keep to their knitting and look for startups that compliment their core strategies.

Sian Wang of Intuit, which famously bought Mint.com for about $170 million nearly two years ago, said that the financial software developer is looking for acquisitions in the payments space, whether it’s mobile, peer-to-peer or Web-based. With a lot of cash on the balance sheet, Wang said the company may look at making an average of four acquisitions a year.

Marc Brown of Microsoft similarly did not want to commit to how many deals Microsoft will do, although he said that the computer company made eight purchases last year. Brown also said Microsoft, which bought VC-backed 3D imaging sensor company Canesta last year, would continue to focus on acquisitions in cloud computing, communications, search and things related to Sharepoint.

Robby Kwok of LinkedIn, which is in registration for an IPO, said that there was no magic number of acquisitions they have targeted, but he said four to six deals this year would be a lot. LinkedIn, which bought the business card reading app CardMunch earlier this year, is new to the acquisition game, having only made its first purchase just last year when it scooped up mSpoke.

As far as who LinkedIn would focus on, Kwok said the ideal acquisition candidates are startups that provide services for professionals.

“If you’re [company] is not helping professionals become more productive, we’re probably not looking [to acquire] you,” he said.

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