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Marc Benioff Salesforce
Marc Benioff, Salesforce CEO. (Courtesy: Salesforce)

Salesforce just made the largest acquisition in its history, snapping up MuleSoft for $6.5 billion in order to help it work with customers operating hybrid cloud strategies.

The deal appears to easily be the largest in the history of the 19-year-old company, which has bought lots of smaller startups over the years. MuleSoft built and maintains an application development platform that lets software organizations build apps that run across multiple operating environments, including their own servers and cloud providers like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure.

The $6.5 billion deal is a combination of cash and stock, and Salesforce said the offer represents a 36 percent premium over the closing price of MuleSoft’s stock on Monday. Salesforce shareholders seem unsure about that price tag, sending Salesforce shares down 3 percent in after-hours trading.

As companies that sat out the first round of cloud computing start making their plans for the next one, hybrid cloud strategies are quickly becoming the norm. At the same time, Salesforce is trying to convince customers to not only use its flagship sales-and-marketing-management software, but build custom applications on top of its own development platform.

MuleSoft’s technology could expand the capabilities of Salesforce’s own app development platform, and possibly allow Salesforce to expand into new markets serving software developers.

For the time being, MuleSoft will continue to offer its Anypoint Platform through its regular channels, said Greg Schott, CEO of MuleSoft, on a conference call following the announcement. At some point, the technology will also become the underpinning for the Salesforce Integration Cloud, which is a new (or soon to be released) product that will find sales data across legacy environments and brand-new cloudy services, he said.

MuleSoft, based in San Francisco alongside Salesforce, has 1,200 employees, Schott said. The companies expect the transaction to close in the second quarter pending legal review and the approval of MuleSoft’s shareholders.

[Editor’s Note: Salesforce is a GeekWire annual sponsor.]

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