Silver Lake and CPP Investments have rolled up Qualtrics for $12.5BN.
The deal includes SAP’s remaining 71 percent stake in Qualtrics, a stake which SAP had gradually reduced since it acquired Qualtrics for $8BN in 2018.
Only two years after that acquisition, SAP spun Qualtrics into an IPO.
While these events may not have followed SAP’s script, Qualtrics turned into a profitable side hustle for the CRM provider – as evident in the rise in its market value.
Moreover, Qualtrics now has 18,000 customers, compared to 10,000 at the point of SAP’s purchase.
Unfortunately, as the tech market endured a post-pandemic cold snap, SAP made its intention clear to sell its remaining stake in Qualtrics.
Two months later, Silver Lake and CPP Investments stepped in to complete the acquisition, turn Qualtrics into a private business, and attempt to accelerate its growth.
Discussing this aim, Zig Serafin, CEO of Qualtrics, said:
We are incredibly excited to partner with the team at Silver Lake, who deeply understand our business and will help us continue to build a high-performing company, invest in our innovation and expand our ecosystem to help our customers succeed.
Qualtrics shareholders, including SAP, will receive $18.15 per share in cash from the deal.
According to the press release, the rate represents a 73 percent premium to the 30-day volume-weighted average price on January 25, 2023.
January 25 was the last full day of trading before SAP announced its intention to sell.
Unfortunately, the rate is down considerably from this time last year. Indeed, in March 2022, its share price stood at $30.16 – so many investors likely made a considerable loss.
However, like most CX tech vendors, 2022 proved a tricky year for Qualtrics in the stock market.
Thankfully, Egon Durban, Co-CEO of Silver Lake, seems confident in its future. He stated:
We’re thrilled to support the continued efficient growth of Qualtrics into a generational, highly profitable platform company by enabling further investment across all aspects of the business, including areas such as AI and other powerful new technologies.
Interestingly, Silver Lake also has a $5.1BN stake in fellow CX player Alibaba Cloud, so there is perhaps potential for some increased interoperability between their offerings.
SAP Bids a Fond Farewell to Qualtrics
When SAP snapped up Qualtrics in 2018, the goal was to bring Qualtrics’ experience data (X data) together with SAP’s operational data (O data) to create a holistic view of the customer.
Yet, that vision never quite came to be, likely because most of Qualtrics’ customers came through its collaboration with SAP’s CRM rival Salesforce.
As such, if Qualtrics had converged with SAP, it would have had to wave goodbye to most of its business, resulting in significant revenue losses.
However, it is not the swing and a miss that this perhaps suggests, with Qualtrics generating a significant revenue stream as a side hustle, which SAP benefitted from.
“Since we acquired Qualtrics in 2019, the company has more than tripled its revenue while delivering profitability,” added Christian Klein, CEO of SAP SE.
SAP intends to remain a close go-to-market and technology partner, servicing joint customers and continuing to contribute to Qualtrics’s success.
Klein had stepped into the CEO spot after the initial deal – as the fact he stated the wrong year for the acquisition perhaps indicates. Since, he has led a change of tact from SAP in the CX space.
Instead of keeping its business in silos, SAP is bringing together its portfolio, converging its CRM and ERP solutions, and delivering industry-specific solutions.
In line with this, it is ditching its side projects – as its recent sale of SAP Litmos also suggests.
Nevertheless, it is unfair to suggest that such moves are a retreat from customer experience, with the enterprise tech leader recently reaffirming its commitment to the space.
Moreover, SAP is advancing its CRM, service, and customer engagement solutions.
Yet, perhaps not with the same media push as its competitors, and it may have to up the ante on this front if it wishes to quash speculation that CX is not a central focus.
Indeed, even Qualtrics – its “side-hustle” until today – pushes its customer experience innovations into the media spotlight with much more vigor.
At its XM Summit in Salt Lake City last week, the VoC vendor even acquired the services of Ryan Reynolds to drum up interest in its latest AI applications.
Perhaps in this respect, SAP can take a leaf from the playbook of its old teammates.