An Oak accord

Oak Investment Partners has finally helped broker a marriage for portfolio company Talisma – a full half-decade after the startup stumbled on its way down the aisle. In both cases, however, it isn’t exactly clear whether the investment firm should be sitting on the bride’s side or the groom’s side at the wedding. In fact, Oak would have a seat on both sides of the aisle.

In this go-round for Talisma, Oak’s late-March investment of $50m in nGenera helped the SaaS rollup add Talisma to its portfolio. If the strategy sounds familiar, it’s because Oak, which owns a majority of Talisma, had a nearly identical plan for the CRM vendor in late 2003. In that case, Oak wanted to stitch together Talisma with fellow portfolio company Pivotal Corp, in a deal that valued publicly traded Pivotal at $48m. Just as that deal was heading toward a vote, however, two other companies outbid Oak for Pivotal. (First, it was Onyx Software, then it was CDC Software. Of course, those companies would go at it again three years later when CDC tried to spoil the purchase of Onyx by Consona, which was then known as M2M Holdings.)

What exactly Oak plans to do with its newly enlarged portfolio company, nGenera, is anyone’s guess. However, it could do a lot worse than follow the strategy of Consona, which was taken private by Battery Ventures. Since the LBO, we understand Battery has pulled out something like six times its money from the CRM rollup, which is still rolling along. Maybe nGenera will serve as Oak’s enterprise SaaS rollup. The company has already done six deals – and counting. 

nGenera’s (fka BSG Alliance) acquisitive history

Announced Target Deal value Target description
May 21, 2008 Talisma Not disclosed SaaS customer service automation
March 5, 2008 Iconixx Not disclosed On-demand talent management HR software
Oct. 3, 2007 Industrial Science Not disclosed Business simulation software
Nov. 29, 2007 New Paradigm Not disclosed Research company
Sept. 13, 2007 Kalivo Not disclosed On-demand collaboration provider
May 7, 2007 The Concours Group Not disclosed Research and executive education firm