SAP goes (Cog)head hunting

Contact: Brenon Daly

Having put a bit of money into Coghead about two years ago through its venture wing, SAP picked up all of the platform-as-a-service vendor in a wind-down sale late last week. Coghead drew in $11m in two rounds from backers El Dorado Ventures, American Capital Strategies and SAP Ventures. American Capital and SAP Ventures joined in Coghead’s last round, raised in April 2007, which came a little more than a year after El Dorado provided a $3.2m first round.

We had heard late last year that Coghead, originally known as Versai Technology, was trying to land another round. However, like so many other startups these days, the company wasn’t having success in raising new capital. Indeed, earlier this month, my colleague Dennis Callaghan noted that Coghead had been quiet for several months. He speculated that the company might fit well into the portfolio of open source business process management vendor Intalio. Coghead actually embedded Intalio’s process engine, and the two startups share SAP Ventures as a backer. (Overall, SAP Ventures has some 38 active investments.)

Instead of landing with Intalio, the Coghead assets are headed to SAP. And what will the German giant do with them? While much of the speculation has portrayed the purchase as SAP buying its way into the cloud, a more tangible indication is the ‘situational applications’ that Coghead announced at last summer’s SAP conference, Sapphire. With Coghead’s technology, users could build and manage applications that integrate with SAP. Given SAP’s proprietary language and platform, allowing customers to build applications or Web front-ends to those applications could go some distance toward getting SAP a return on its investment.