Acquisition Fever


image There is a lot of acquisition talk these days, both anticipated and real.  When you think on it, it isn’t really news.  Acquisitions are a constant in this industry, but there are two of late that indicate how things may be getting ready to change.  People keep asking me my thoughts, so I thought I would jot them down.

Keep in mind that I’m not an analyst or expert and I don’t play one on TV.  I can write a mean Haiku though.

Adobe Buys Day

If you don’t follow the CMS open source world and/or the CMS industry at large, this announcement may leave you scratching your head wondering “So what?”  Day Software has been one of the leading open source companies in the Content Management world.  They are headquartered in Europe and have been working to build a footprint here in the states.

Meanwhile, Adobe is, well, Adobe.  They are critical players in the publishing industry.  They’ve had a really neat little product called LiveCycle for a few years that you could get bundled with Alfresco or integrate into your favorite little ECM platform.

If you want a great collection of viewpoints, head over to CMS Wire.  Irina wrote a great summation of the first day of activity.  Read that before proceeding any further.

I see the fit.  I see the synergy.  I see Adobe picking up a profitable, growing, company that can fit nicely into their portfolio.  I see Day gaining broader access to the U.S. market and some substantial financial backing which will calm potential large customers.

What I don’t see is overwhelming success.

I’m not a fortune teller.  I do know this…Adobe sales people will have no idea how to sell Day.  They sell product.  They try and sell LiveCycle, and they don’t do as well as they should given the quality of the product.  Selling Content Management is even harder.  The EMC core guys have been trying to get a handle on selling Documentum to their high-spending storage customers and haven’t been succeeding.  Adobe at least starts closer, but there is no slam dunk.

Then there is all the cool stuff that will be available to users of Day’s CQ5. I’ll bet right now that there will be a license cost.  I bet they could buy it now.  I’m not saying there won’t be a better integration or that it won’t cost less, but it won’t be a magic panacea.

Meanwhile, there is one important thing to note.  Day is the first of what I call the “2nd Generation” CMS vendors to really get bought by a larger company.  The 2nd gens are maturing and becoming attractive.  I expect that more will start getting bought by people that have been waiting for that maturity so that they can get one that they want, and not whatever is left.  It won’t be quick, but the wheels are going to be turning.

Autonomy to Buy Open Text?

image This is a RUMOR that has been gaining traction.  It is an interesting one though for a few reasons, not the least of it would be the reversal of roles for Open Text.  If I was a competitor of either company, there are two things I would want to happen.  I would want to perpetuate the rumor because it cause a lot of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt).  Second, I would want it to happen.

For years Open Text has been fighting the reputation as the acquirer of all things Content Management.  Recently, Autonomy has been making a few acquisitions that were overlapping in nature as well, though not to the degree of redundancy of Open Text.

If this took place, you would have so many CMS solutions under one company that it would be almost ridiculous.  Vignette, Interwoven, iManage, LiveLink, and eDocs to name just a few.  If they came in and their first demo didn’t click, they could just show a different product until you liked one.

The only reason I can see for this deal is to build an O&M cash cow.  That’s it.  Sad though it would be, I would have to laugh at anyone that tried to make a serious argument that the resulting company was one of the leaders in the industry.

This would also create an official place where the Content Management systems of today can go and die their slow death.  It would also officially mark the passing of a significant number of the 1st Generation CMS vendors.  The ECM generation is trying to redefine themselves under pricing pressure from SharePoint, Open Source, and cloud-based solutions.  While more capable, not everyone needs all of those features.  They also cannot master the calculus required to determine the cost, competitive or not.

This also has begun to beg the question, which of the 1st generation vendors is going to evolve enough to become the “godfather” to the 2nd generation, or will they just slowly be wiped from the face of technology over the next decade?

Haiku

I hinted at a Haiku, so here we go….

Collecting money,

Not growing organically.

Oooo, shiny penny.

2 thoughts on “Acquisition Fever

  1. Like it or not, the core of content management is headed down the stack. It’s happening slowly enough that the CMS vendors aren’t picking up on it, or they simply ignore it. I’ve spoken with dozens of them in recent months and I can say they almost universally ignore/dismiss the notion. Talk about slow-boiled frogs.

    Mark my words (and I have been saying this since 2002 when I first leapt into the storage industry from my roots in information management) core CM services will gradually end up in storage systems as an embedded framework on which remaining CM/WCM/DAM/etc vendors can build vertical solutions. In fact, it’s already underway.

    Why? Because it’s the only way IMO to make storage and all of the elements of storage management (which is already HUGELY expense, and growing) more efficient, effective and affordable. Selling CM isn’t difficult. It only seems difficult because most people who sell CM (I used to be one of them) do not understand how to combine CM’s message with the hard dollar savings in storage. I just wrote about a similar issue on our blog a day or two ago.

    As an aside…I had big hopes for DCTM under EMC. Several years have passed and, frankly, I am not impressed. I’m still waiting for EMC to figure out what I wrote a moment ago. How to embed core CM functionality into its storage products and services.

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    • You’ve obviously already read my next post, which is funny as the draft is still on my laptop, though I’m about to remedy that. The challenge that neither your comment, or my post, address is that basic Content Management is easy, it is the adoption and Change Management that is hard. I’ll swing over to your blog and take a peek at your post.

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