And the Golden Tombstone goes to …

Contact: Brenon Daly

In addition to getting insight into what corporate development officials plan to buy in the coming year, our annual survey also asked which company they thought made the smartest acquisition during the previous year. (See our full report on the survey.) So which company gets the coveted Golden Tombstone for 2008? Hewlett-Packard, for its $13.9bn purchase of EDS in May.

However, in handing out this peer-voted accolade, we hope that HP doesn’t stumble after stepping up to the dais to accept it, as happened to last year’s winner. (Maybe this is a variation of the ‘Sports Illustrated cover jinx,’ which is a surprisingly accurate predictor of which team is about to hit an inexplicable – and intractable – slump.) Our 2007 Golden Tombstone went to Citrix for its $500m pickup of XenSource.

Although Citrix had promised big things for the virtualization startup, it is coming up short. When the ink had just dried on the acquisition, Citrix talked about $50m (or even higher, privately) of 2008 revenue from the startup, which had no sales to speak of when it sold. Now, it looks like XenDesktop and XenServer will actually contribute about $25m for the year. Granted, the startup XenSource and the 46-year-old EDS are at opposite ends of the corporate lifecycle, and the strategies that drove the deals are completely different. Still, we’re a superstitious bunch, particularly when we’ve already had so much bad luck on the market.