Oracle Corp., one of the world’s largest software companies, said Monday that it is buying RightNow Technologies Inc. for about $1.5 billion and plans to keep the company in Bozeman.

It remains unclear exactly how the approximately 500 local employees will be affected. Greg Gianforte, CEO and founder of RightNow, declined the Chronicle’s request for an interview Monday but sent an emailed statement late Monday evening.

Gianforte said in his email that he was proud of his company’s employees for creating a world-class business in Bozeman that attracted the world’s largest enterprise software company to establish operations here.

“When I started RightNow 14 years ago, there was some question as to whether a world-class business could be run from Bozeman,” he wrote. “We have proven that the Internet truly does remove geography as a constraint in where you locate a business.”

Gianforte said in the email that it would be his last comment about the acquisition until the deal is closed.

In a separate statement, Gianforte said he was excited that Oracle will increase investment and create more jobs in Montana.

He added that RightNow would complement the larger company while remaining in and “expanding our presence in Bozeman.”

Frank Kerins, an associate professor in the College of Business at Montana State University, said he thinks the Oracle agreement is good news for Bozeman.

“There’s a likelihood that Oracle’s going to bring new jobs to Bozeman,” Kerins said. “It’s an incredible opportunity.”

It’s also likely to benefit MSU, he said, because RightNow often hires its engineering and business graduates.

RightNow’s board agreed unanimously to the Oracle deal, which is subject to shareholder approval. Oracle expects to complete the deal by late this year or early next. It said it bought the company so it can offer a broader range of software and services that help businesses manage customer service.

Oracle is offering $43 per share for the tech service company from Bozeman. That is a 19.6 percent premium over RightNow’s closing price of $35.96 on Friday.

That means that anyone, including employee shareholders, who owned company stock last week saw a value of their shares increase by nearly 20 percent over the weekend. According to Bloomberg news service, Gianforte’s 20 percent stake in the company is worth about $290 million in the deal.

Oracle has been making a series of acquisitions since 2005, according to the Bloomberg report. It began that year with the purchase of PeopleSoft Inc., a human-resources software maker.

Mark Corcoran, director of individual investor group research for D.A. Davidson, said the RightNow deal is a small acquisition for Oracle, but said it’s important for RightNow because it’s joining a leader that’s well respected and profitable.

“More importantly, it indicates to investors that Oracle is aware it needs to advance its cloud offerings,” Corcoran said.

Gianforte founded RightNow in 1997 and took the company public in 2004 with one of the year’s most successful initial public offerings, according to the RightNow website. Before starting RightNow, Gianforte founded Brightwork, a developer of network management applications, and after eight years sold it to McAfee Associates in 1994.

RightNow’s main product helps companies manage customers’ questions and complaints. It is delivered over the Internet — or “cloud” — rather than by installing software directly on computers. The deal follows Oracle’s acquisition of InQuira to expand its selection of products that help companies keep their customers happy. Terms of that deal, announced in July, were not disclosed.

On Monday, RightNow’s stock rose $6.98, or 19.4 percent, to close at $42.94.

Shares of Oracle, which is based in Redwood Shores, Calif., gained 75 cents, or 2.3 percent, to end at $32.87.

Carly Flandro may be reached at 582-2638 or cflandro@dailychronicle.com.

RightNow Stock Price

RightNow Timeline