RightNow -- Right On Target

Vendor's acquistion positions it as major competitor to Salesforce.com

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RightNow Technology's $9 million buyout of Salesnet last May will bolster its effort to take on Salesforce.com, solution providers said.

Both vendors concentrated on hosted CRM and sales force automation (SFA) capabilities. Privately held Salesnet followed a strong channel model—partners were able to private-label and enhance the offering.

"RightNow brings instant viability to Salesnet and its partners given it is a publicly traded software manufacturing company with 1,500 company customers and $87 million in revenues worldwide," said Lisa Glinche, president and CEO of Sales Prodigy, a longtime Salesnet partner based in Castle Rock, Colo.

"Salesnet and its partner organization bring focus and depth regarding how to successfully sell the SFA component of an enterprise CRM solution to the RightNow organization," she added. Ian Hendry, director of Entelegen, a Windsor, U.K.-based Salesnet partner, agreed that the two vendors' strengths are complementary.

RightNow focused "on large deals for its service and self-service solutions. Although they have had SFA capabilities for a year or so, they have not been heavily promoted and they have no exposure to the SME market," Hendry said.

"All the partners I have spoken to are excited at the opportunities working with RightNow presents and the prospects going forward for an offering combining best-of-breed service and sales automation solutions," he said. "There is a lot in the Salesnet channel that helps RightNow take the fight to Salesforce.com."

RightNow, Bozeman, Mont., retained Salesnet's Boston office, which will host development, sales, marketing and support.

Salesnet partners were glad that Salesnet president Jonathan Tang will serve as vice president of sales solutions and drive partner strategy. Tang "will continue to manage and drive these relationships," Greg Gianforte, CEO of RightNow, said via e-mail. "We are excited about having these partners on board and will be introducing more RightNow capabilities into their bag of tricks."

RightNow set a high growth goal over the next few years and realizes that the only way to achieve it is to incorporate an aggressive channel sales organization to complement its direct sales organization, Glinche added.

Rich Perkett, Salesnet's CTO, is now director of product development and will integrate Salesnet's technology into RightNow.

At the time of the announcement, Gianforte said Salesnet brought "substantial sales workflow domain expertise to our business, accelerates our road map by more than a year and adds hundreds of customers."

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