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Source: Moviedraft.com
"We need to buy more marketing companies." 
-Marc Benioff, 02.28.13

"Marketo announced today that it plans to conduct a registered I.P.O. of its common stock"  
-Marketo Press Release, 02.26.13

It's like that awkward moment in a romantic comedy, when everyone knows that two characters should get together, except for the protagonists themselves. It's come to that with Salesforce.com and Marketo. As a proud alum of Salesforce.com, and satisfied former client and friend of Marketo, it's especially frustrating for me to watch this obvious love match between best-of-breed Software-as-a-Service companies take so long to happen.

Of course, the would-be couple only has themselves to blame. Salesforce initially looked to build its Marketing Cloud with sexy social enterprise acquisitions -- namely Radian6 and Buddy Media -- which were targeted to consumer brands more than its bread and butter B2B enterprises. At the time, this seemed to be a bold -- and perhaps even brilliant -- move by Salesforce, as it instantly gave it credibility not only with consumer brands such as Burberry, but with CMOs of all stripes. But as is often the case with M&A, the company hit some road bumps along the way.

Marketo, for its part, also looked to sprinkle on itself the magic dust of social, with an acquisition of Crowd Factory -- a B2B social application vendor -- in April 2012. 

But the time has come for each to put its youthful dalliances with social enterprise apps in the rearview mirror. Marketo finds itself now competing with Oracle, as a result of Oracle's $871 million acquisition of Eloqua. If there is one rule of survival for mature enterprise software technologies, it is this: do not mess with Larry Ellison. Oracle, of course, is Salesforce.com's nemesis. One analyst, Rick Sherlund of Nomura, even praised the Eloqua deal because it "should allow Oracle to better compete with Salesforce.com." 

But the synergy between these two companies goes beyond merely having a common enemy. For all the sizzle surrounding Salesforce.com's re-positioning itself over the years as a Cloud Computing leader, Social Enterprise vendor, and now champion of Customer Companies (though evidently an enemy of English teachers everywhere), at its core it is a SaaS CRM vendor for B2B companies. And these companies are embracing marketing automation technologies at a rapid pace. So it's only fitting that the company's next acquisition will be Marketo. I just hope for both that they don't wait too long, as there is an unglamorous but reliable German suitor waiting in the wings.