Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) has made no secret of its intention to grow. The company aims to double its revenue to $20 billion by 2022, but it isn't planning to stop there. It harbors even more ambitious revenue growth targets of $40 billion by 2028, and $60 billion by 2034.
While a portion of that growth will of course be organic, Salesforce has shown it isn't averse to acquiring other businesses that it sees as natural extensions of its existing skill set. The most recent high-profile example is the company's $6.5 billion takeover of MuleSoft, a platform that extracts data from a variety of cloud silos and aggregates that data so it can be analyzed to provide greater insight.
Investors might be surprised to learn that according to a recent regulatory filing, Salesforce holds stakes in several small- and mid-cap cloud-based companies -- including Twilio (NYSE:TWLO), Dropbox (NASDAQ:DBX), and DocuSign (NASDAQ:DOCU) -- and they could be next in line to be acquired.
Twilio simplifies the process of integrating phone calls, text messages, chat, and video communications into apps via easy-to-use APIs (application programming interfaces). There's a good chance you've used the company's technology without even knowing it. The text you receive saying your Uber has arrived, the order notification from DoorDash, and the new password sent by Hulu were all delivered by Twilio. The company also helps provide two-factor authentication codes for thousands of businesses.
The company is in a lucrative niche. Twilio reported second-quarter revenue of $147.8 million, an increase of 54% year over year, and adjusted earnings per share of $0.03, up from a loss of $0.05 in the prior-year quarter.
This cloud communications specialist would easily plug in to Salesforce's existing businesses, as many of its clients integrate their customer relationship management (CRM) software with Twilio to better communicate with their customers. Salesforce owns a 0.9% stake currently worth about $71 million, but Twilio's stock has tripled so far this year. So, the chances of picking up the company on the cheap are waning -- it now has a $7.7 billion market cap.
File-sharing specialist Dropbox went public earlier this year to much fanfare, soaring 40% on its debut. Why all the excitement? The company has expanded beyond its humble beginnings, providing a platform that allows business teams to collaborate on projects. Additionally, its service links seamlessly with a number of high-profile providers, including Adobe and Salesforce.
Dropbox is also experiencing impressive growth. In the fiscal second quarter of 2018, revenue grew to $339.2 million, up 27% year over year, while adjusted earnings per share nearly doubled to $0.11, from $0.06 in the prior-year quarter.
This is another business that could be a natural fit for Salesforce's portfolio of strategic services, as an application that would easily benefit the cloud provider's existing customers. Salesforce currently owns 1.27% of Dropbox, worth about $141 million, and the company has a market cap of about $11 billion.
If you've ever needed multiple parties to sign the same document in different time zones simultaneously (e.g. a real-estate deal closing), you've probably used DocuSign. The company is the No. 1 global electronic signature solution by market share, and it provides digital transaction management services on its cloud-based platform.
For the fiscal first quarter of 2019, DocuSign's revenue of $155.8 million jumped 37% year over year, while adjusted earnings per share of $0.01 far outpaced the $0.30 loss in the prior-year quarter.
DocuSign is another company which recently debuted on the public markets. Its stock price leaped 40% on its initial public offering, and it sports a current market capitalization of $10 billion. The company has a long-standing partnership and integration with Salesforce's platform. It's also worth noting that the Salesforce's 2.9% equity position in DocuSign is the largest of the three investments, and is currently valued at nearly $288 million.
What it all means
While the stakes Salesforce owns in each of these companies signals an interest in their respective businesses and technologies, that doesn't necessarily mean another takeout is in the offing.
On the other hand, Salesforce has telegraphed some pretty ambitious goals for growth in the coming years, and it's unlikely that all of that growth will be organic -- so it isn't a stretch to assume that there will be more acquisitions in the company's future.
Each of these companies could provide additional growth opportunities, and each currently trades at an obtainable price. Based on analysts' revenue estimates for the year, Dropbox is the best bargain, currently worth just eight times forward estimated one-year revenue. Twilio and DocuSign are currently selling for 13 times and 15 times estimates, respectively. For comparison, Salesforce paid 16 times forward revenue estimates for MuleSoft earlier this year.
Salesforce would likely have to pay a significant premium for any one of these companies, as investors are currently pretty enthusiastic about their future prospects. As an example, Dropbox might command a 30% to 40% premium, bidding the asking price up as high as $16 billion. Salesforce doesn't currently have that kind of cash laying around, so another acquisition so soon after MuleSoft would require a stock issuance or additional borrowings -- in addition to the cash on its balance sheet -- to make it happen.