Last week Oracle bought Textura for $663 million, giving the database giant a vertical construction solution in the cloud. Today it bought Opower for $532 million giving it a vertical utilities cloud solution. I can’t be sure, but I think I see a pattern here.
Opower provides cloud data solutions for the utilities industry. What that means in practice is that it gathers data from utilities like PG&E, Exelon and National Grid. The company stores and analyzes over 600 billion meter reads from 60 million utility customers via its cloud service, according to Oracle. This data lets their subscribers stay ahead of customer and regulatory requirements and find greater efficiencies.
While that kind of application has a somewhat limited market, it’s likely lucrative and the company counts over 100 utility companies from around the world as customers. Unfortunately, that hasn’t translated into great stock performance for Opower, which went public in April, 2014 after raising almost $66 million.
It went public at a healthy $23 per share on April 4, 2014 and has gone steadily downhill ever since, reaching a low of $6.25 per share on March 11th this year. The stock was up this morning, selling at $7.91 a share with a market cap of almost $427 million.
Opower gives Oracle a stronger position and a ready supply of customers in the cloud utilities market, where it already is offering products. ” “Together, Oracle Utilities and Opower will be the largest provider of mission-critical cloud services to utilities,” Rodger Smith, senior vice president and general manager for Oracle Utilities Global Business Unit said in a statement.
As Oracle struggles to find a place in the cloud market in which it competes with AWS, Salesforce, Microsoft, Google, IBM and others, it’s using its checkbook to expand its position. While the company’s financials have shown some progress in the cloud, it has made the bulk of its money over the years selling licensed software and hardware.
Moving to a subscription model in the cloud is not an easy transition for a company like Oracle and perhaps it sees a vertical strategy as a way to differentiate itself from the rest of the field. It’s not a bad approach. With over $50 billion in cash, Oracle obviously has the money to buy its way into the cloud.
It’s certainly not the first deep-pocketed legacy vendor pursuing this tactic. IBM and Cisco in particular have been following a similar pattern buying up cloud properties in an effort to fight off disruptive forces.
As for this deal, the Opower board has approved it and it awaits standard regulatory and stockholder approvals. Oracle expects the deal to close some time later this year.