SAP Buys Qualtrics to Boost CRM Offerings

The $8 billion deal "reaffirms experience management as the groundbreaking new frontier for the technology industry,” SAP's CEO says.
Matthew HellerNovember 12, 2018

In the second-largest ever acquisition of a SaaS company, German enterprise software giant SAP said Monday it has agreed to buy Qualtrics for $8 billion, adding “experience management” products to its portfolio.

The deal preempts a planned initial public offering by Qualtrics, which provides tools such as online surveys to help enterprises track customer and employee sentiment. Its XM platform is used by more than 9,000 customers globally, including more than 75% of the Fortune 100.

Qualtrics expects revenue to exceed $400 million this year, and projects a growth rate above 40%, not including potential synergies that might arise from being part of SAP. The company’s CEO, Ryan Smith, told Reuters the IPO would have valued Qualtrics at least at $6 billion.

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“We continually seek out transformational opportunities — today’s announcement is exactly that,” SAP CEO Bill McDermott said in a news release.

“The combination of Qualtrics and SAP reaffirms experience management as the groundbreaking new frontier for the technology industry,” he added.

SAP’s core products provide support for finance, logistics and human resources. According to Reuters, the deal will “help Europe’s most valuable tech firm strengthen its customer relationship management (CRM) software offering,” a sector in which it competes with CRM specialist Salesforce and arch-rival Oracle.

SAP will acquire all of the outstanding shares in Qualtrics and has secured 7 billion euros in financing to cover the purchase price and acquisition-related costs for the deal, which has been approved by both companies’ boards.

“SAP will help us scale faster and achieve our mission on a broader stage,” Smith said. “This will put the XM Platform everywhere overnight.”

The acquisition is SAP’s largest since it bought travel and expense-management firm Concur for $8.3 billion in 2014. It is also the second-largest deal for an SAAS company after Oracle’s purchase of Netsuite for $9.3 billion in 2016.

The New York Times noted that at 20 times Qualtrics’ forecast revenue for 2018, SAP is paying up for Qualtrics. “Might be a valid strategic rationale and top-line growth is impressive, but it’s still expensive,” one trader told Reuters.