A (belated) Oscar for IBM

Contact: Brenon Daly

We hand out our version of the Oscar every year in late December. (Like the movie industry award, our Golden Tombstone is voted on by folks in the industry, which, in this case, are fellow corporate development executives.) Last year, Oracle’s drawn-out acquisition of Sun Microsystems took the top spot, while the year before, Hewlett-Packard’s multibillion-dollar purchase of services giant EDS caught the voters’ favor. But watching Christopher Waltz and Mo’Nique last night pick up best supporting actor and actress, respectively, reminded us that we neglected to award our Golden Tombstone for best supporting strategic player last year.

The winner, of course, is IBM. It did a heap of due diligence on Sun and had the acquisition nearly done before it ‘failed’ to close it (to use the words of eventual acquirer Oracle). It’s actually the second time that Big Blue has done a lot of work on a multibillion-dollar transaction only to see a rival swoop in and carry off the target. IBM had an acquisition of WebEx all but inked before Cisco wrapped up a deal for the online conferencing vendor in less than two weeks, according to our understanding.