Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl Just Landed Its Biggest Deal Ever, but Can’t Brag About It

Shares of are rising at a healthy clip today, after the company is said to have closed the biggest single transaction in its history.

Piper Jaffray analyst Mark Murphy wrote in a note to clients this morning that Salesforce has closed a huge deal worth more than one landed earlier this year with State Farm Insurance — that deal was valued at $140 million. It’s not clear who the Salesforce deal was with.

Salesforce doesn’t disclose any of its biggest customers. In its most recent 10-K, it said that one customer it didn’t name accounted for 6 percent of accounts receivable as of Jan. 31, and beyond that, no single customer accounted for 5 percent or more of accounts receivable.

A hypothetical deal at $140 million would account for about 6 percent of 2012 revenue; though, since Salesforce tends to amortize its sales like subscriptions, it will probably avoid having to disclose all the juicy details.

The deal was unexpected, Murphy says, and comes 10 days before Salesforce reports quarterly earnings on Aug. 23. It’s also unusual in that deals of this size typically close late in the year, when companies are using up the last of their purchasing budgets and making big plans for the year ahead. One suspicion: It might be a company whose fiscal fourth quarter is ending in August.

Anyway, I reached out to Salesforce, and its spokeswoman declined to comment, citing its quiet period. The deal might also be the one that CEO Marc Benioff referred to when he said, on a recent earnings call, that the deal pipeline looked “unlike anything we’ve ever seen in size and scale.”

Salesforce shares rose by nearly 3 percent, to $143.88, which amounts to a year-to-date increase of about 42 percent. That is certainly impressive, though even at that level, the shares are trading only 5 percent higher than they were at this time last year.

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