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Oracle plans to acquire cloud-based sales force automation and customer service company RightNow for $1.5 billion, the company announced Monday morning.

The planned acquisition makes a ton a sense in light of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s announcement earlier this month to finally push Oracle into public cloud computing after many years of shunning cloud services. The Oracle Public Cloud will let its customers use Oracle apps direct from the Web or deploy native apps in the cloud.

The acquisition of RightNow will help Oracle continue branching out in the cloud in a different fashion. RightNow’s focus is on helping clients with customer engagement and problem solving through social media, rich online interfaces and contact centers. With those services in tow, Oracle will be able to better compete with the likes of, which Ellison has been critical of.

“Oracle is moving aggressively to offer customers a full range of cloud solutions including sales force automation, human resources, talent management, social networking, databases and Java as part of the Oracle Public Cloud,” said Thomas Kurian, Oracle Development Executive VP, in a statement. “RightNow’s leading customer service cloud is a very important addition to Oracle’s Public Cloud.”

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Oracle’s offer of $1.5 billion equals $43 per share, a nearly 20 percent premium over RightNow’s closing price of $32.96 on Friday. Bozeman, Mont.-based RightNow said it has 2,000 customers and is currently listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange alongside Oracle.

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