Oracle buys Art Technology Group -

Oracle has spent Mark Hurd's dinner allowance on Art Technology Group, paying $1 billion for the provider of e-commerce software, or $6 per share. 

The Massachusetts company was founded in 1991 and made its first IPO in 1999. Oracle said today that the deal is expected to close by early 2011. 

Oracle and ATG, according to Oracle, share many of the same customers already.  In a questions and answers PDF, Oracle says the rationale behind the acquisition is aiming for a unified CRM retail and commerce platform, sparked by the "convergence of online and traditional commerce."

It will help, Oracle says, customers to receive the same "level of brand experience across online, mobile and in store channels," and will be a "seamless and personalised experience". Here's the customer letter to ATG.

Each company will operate independently until the transaction is final but the management team and employees will be under Ellison's control afterwards. 

Bernardine Wu, CEO of e-commerce consultancy fItFoRcOmMeRcE, tells us: "As online and multichannel retailers get more and more sophisticated, their strategies require convergence of technology offerings.

"The Oracle acquisition of ATG makes sense as CRM is an integral part of growing a multichannel business, especially with mobile and social being new channels and not just features. The need to understand and reach out to customers by leveraging personalized data and buying history and preferences is becoming a stock requirement.

"We see additional M&A activity in the eCommerce platform space coming as vendors look beyond marketing partnerships to actual integrated one-stop offerings."