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Why Oracle Bought One of Canada's Secretly Successful Startups

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Eloqua offers Oracle a way to shift into automated marketing.

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Editor's Note: This story by Shane Schick originally appeared on Yahoo Finance Canada.

I noticed them as soon as I got on the plane to San Francisco this past September: About a dozen young men in their mid-20s and early 30s, wearing stark black T-shirts that read, "I'm a modern marketing expert" on the back. We were among the Canadians en route to the annual conference put on by Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM), a large business software provider, but I'll bet few if any of them knew their career journey would eventually take them into the arms of Salesforce.com's biggest competitor.

Those men worked for Eloqua (NASDAQ:ELOQ), the company acquired by Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) on Thursday in a deal valued at US$871 million, or $23.50 per share. Few Canadians would ever have heard of Eloqua, and fewer still would realize that it was among the more successful startups on the US market that launched in Toronto. Yet Eloqua's success is a strong reminder that, Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) challenges notwithstanding, Canada continues to spawn organizations that come to redefine where the action is in the global IT sector.

Eloqua makes what is called marketing automation software. These are tools that marketing departments can use to, among other things, send out e-mail messages to target customers who, if they open a message and click on a link, might become sales prospects.

Because so many people research products and services online now, and because they almost always comparison shop ruthlessly, the time it takes to get money out of a customer's hands takes a lot longer than it once did. Marketing automation is supposed to help speed up the sales cycle, allow sales departments to get good leads and pull in all kinds of other data on consumers based on how they act online. Eloqua calls this behavior a customer's "digital body language."
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