Cornerstone Gets Into Small/Mid Market With $14 Million Sonar6 Deal

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New Zealand talent management vendor Sonar6 has been acquired by Cornerstone On Demand in a deal valued at $14 million.

Cornerstone’s stock closed up 6.19 percent to $22.12.

Sonar6 serves the small- to mid-sized market, while Cornerstone serves mostly larger employers with a full lifecycle software suite that is especially strong in the performance management and learning areas.

Both companies are SaaS provisoned, so the acquisition, unlike that of SuccessFactors and SAP, and, to a lesser extent, the recent Oracle deal to buy Taleo, appears to be for just the reason Cornerstone says: “The acquisition will accelerate the company’s momentum in the small business (SMB) market.”

Sonar6 will be re-branded as Cornerstone

The SuccessFactors deal was primarily to give SAP a fully cloud-based capability. The German company had been developing its own SaaS suite, but it was plagued by delays. Buying SuccessFactors gave it an instant SaaS product line, which SAP said, would remain independent of its on-premises enterprises systems.

Taleo is not entirely cloud-based, though it has SaaS services for most or all of its products. Oracle, like SAP, has been moving to a cloud-based architecture, but is further ahead with products already brought to market. Acquiring Taleo not only accelerates that process, it also removes a strong competitor.

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Cornerstone said it won’t try to integrate Sonar6’s performance management and succession planning tools. “Following the acquisition, Sonar6 will be re-branded as a Cornerstone solution specifically for small businesses,’ says the announcement issued by Cornerstone. However, Sonar6 solutions will continue as separate products, “to preserve Cornerstone’s 100 percent organically developed solution for enterprise and mid-market clients”

Sonar6 team will continue to work from New Zealand

In a barely veiled reference to the recent acquisitions, Cornerstone CEO and President Adam Miller said, “ERP vendors are now engrossed with integrating disparate enterprise systems, and we saw a clear opening to accelerate our growth strategy and penetrate the SMB market. Sonar6 has built a reputation as the leading talent management solution for small businesses. Together, we plan to expand Cornerstone’s global market opportunity.”

Sonar6 has some 375 customers, and a handful of accolades including being named a top 10 HR product by HR Executive magazine. The acquisition, which is expected to be completed next month, will leave the Sonar6 team in place and still based in Auckland.

CEO and co-founder Michael Carden will be appointed as Cornerstone’s newly-created position of Vice President of Small Business Operations. In addition, co-founder Mark Hellier will continue his role driving innovation as Head of Products for Small Business Operations.

John Zappe is the former editor of and contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor before transitioning to digital media. In 1994, he launched one of the  first newspaper sites. Before joining ERE Media , John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group where he developed and managed a team of developers, content producers and digital advertising and marketing specialists.

Today, John is a contract writer producing whitepapers, blog posts, thought leadership articles and marketing content and managing  social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing.His website is

In his spare time he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

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