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SaaS Valuations Sky-High — And Staying That Way

Barb Darrow, GigaOm:

Wolf’s numbers show that a select group of SaaS companies saw their values grow 313 percent from January 2009 to October 2011, compared to 154 percent growth for other software companies over the same period.

No wonder Oracle shelled out $1.5 billion for RightNow Technologies and Salesforce.com keeps snapping up smaller SaaS players every month.

“With Saas, the more vertical the better,” Wolf said in interview. SaaS companies offering financial services, healthcare services or employee benefits outsourcing services, are all hot now, he added.

So who’ll be buying? The usual suspects: IBM, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft.

Increased valuation begets consolidation, and SaaS is where all the buying is going to be happening. That much is clear. But this bubble, as it were, seems awfully vulnerable to macroeconomic factors and externalities. And as legacy software companies acquire SaaS players to broaden/deepen their portfolios, eventually valuations will get pretty muddy.

Something to watch.

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