Again, 2018 showed how important acquisitions are to Salesforce's growth and expansion into markets such as AI, e-commerce, integration and collaboration.
Salesforce acquisitions have played an increasingly important role in the CRM vendor's growth into new markets, particularly AI and e-commerce.
In 2018 alone, Salesforce acquisitions totaled more than $7 billion, led by the San Francisco-based company's purchase of MuleSoft for $6.5 billion. MuleSoft is the main example of Salesforce using acquisitions to bolster its product catalog. Salesforce turned MuleSoft's Anypoint platform into the Integration Cloud.
Salesforce acquisitions have long fueled its innovation strategies. In 2016 -- another busy acquisition year -- Salesforce acquired roughly 10 companies that ultimately helped build out the Einstein AI platform. That year, Salesforce spent nearly $3 billion on Demandware, giving the CRM vendor an e-commerce product.
Another key Salesforce acquisition in 2018, CloudCraze, strengthened Salesforce's e-commerce system by adding B2B e-commerce.
In addition to acquiring MuleSoft and CloudCraze in 2018, Salesforce paid $11 million for Attic Labs, an open source data storage vendor; $800 million for AI marketing intelligence vendor Datorama; and interactive email services vendor Rebel for an undisclosed price.
A challenge for Salesforce in building a product catalog by acquisition is engineering solid integrations between the acquired technologies.
That's why Salesforce more than doubled its previous highest purchase to acquire MuleSoft and also why the CRM leader unveiled Customer 360 in 2018. With Customer 360, Salesforce intends to better integrate its existing applications and clouds.
Let's see what 2019 will bring for Salesforce acquisitions. Salesforce followed its busy 2016 with a quiet 2017 in terms of acquisitions. Salesforce could similarly slow its buying pace in 2019. Or not, with tough competitors like Adobe busy of late with its own acquisitions.