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Marc Benioff at TechCrunch Disrupt SF. (GeekWire Photo / Taylor Soper)
Marc Benioff at TechCrunch Disrupt SF. (GeekWire Photo)

What companies are on the wish list of Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff?

Leaked emails from former Secretary of State Colin Powell — who has served on the board of Salesforce.com since 2014 — provide insight into the M&A direction of the San Francisco-based tech juggernaut.

The leaked emails, from a group known as “hacktivists” and reported on Tuesday evening by The Wall Street Journal, show that Salesforce.com has an active registry of potential M&A targets. In fact, the registry from the leaked emails, dated May 2016, stood at 14 companies deep. Some of the companies on the list, like LinkedIn, have already found other suitors.

But others are still active, and in play.

Among those on the list: Seattle-based Tableau Software, the pioneer in data visualization software that currently boasts a market value of $3.5 billion and is in the process of bringing on a new CEO in former Amazon executive Adam Selipsky.

Others on the Salesforce.com list include San Jose-based Adobe, which shares a campus with Tableau in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, and currently is valued at $54 billion, even more than Salesforce’s  $49 billion valuation.

A Salesforce spokeswoman said that Adobe was on the list simply as a “benchmark to provide context.”

“Salesforce has a disciplined and thoughtful M&A process where we routinely survey the industry landscape across a wide range of companies, but acquire very few,” the spokeswoman said in an emailed statement to GeekWire. “The presentation is a broad survey of publicly traded companies in May 2016, and the appearance of company names on the list doesn’t imply Salesforce ever intended to acquire them.”

Christian Chabot, Tableau co-founder and chairman, with new Tableau CEO Adam Selipsky. Photo via Michael Tableau/.
Christian Chabot, Tableau co-founder and chairman, with new Tableau CEO Adam Selipsky. Photo via Tableau.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the leaked documents identify 14 possible Salesforce targets, including Pegasystems, ServiceNow, Marketo and Qlik Technologies, a competitor of Tableau’s that was acquired for $3 billion by private equity firm Thoma Bravo in August.

In the document, Tableau was given the code name “Tuscany” by Salesforce insiders. And notes indicate that the company remained “in play,” presumably meaning that it could still be an attractive target for Salesforce.

WorkDay, Box and Zendesk also are on the Salesforce list, though notes are attached to the document indicating lack of interest among the possible targets, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Interestingly, the documents do not pinpoint Twitter on the list, which Benioff last week said they would not pursue as an acquisition.

But the list did include LinkedIn, which Microsoft agreed to purchase for $26.2 billion in July. Interestingly, Salesforce — which lost out in a bidding war for the social networking giant — is asking regulators to look into possible antitrust concerns over the tie-up of Microsoft and LinkedIn. Even so, in the leaked documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal, Benioff discusses how close they came to purchasing LinkedIn.

Editor’s note: Salesforce is a GeekWire annual sponsor.

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