Informatica: Just dating or something more?

Contact: Brenon Daly, Krishna Roy

Is it just dating, or are they looking to get married? That was a question that Wall Street was kicking around last week after Hewlett-Packard and Informatica announced a deeper relationship. The new accord sees HP licensing a number of Informatica’s offerings so that it can provide its customers with data management products. HP is also supplying these same wares from Informatica as part of its existing consulting services for business intelligence (BI) and related arenas and pushing these combined offerings through its direct sales force. (My colleague Krishna Roy has a full report on the tie-up.)

The announcement, which came out last Tuesday, didn’t initially generate much speculation about the relationship between the two longtime partners. However, by Friday, Wall Street was reading much more into the joint agreement. Shares of Informatica rallied almost 7% on Friday, with volume more than three times heavier than average. (The rally continued a strong run by Informatica, which has seen its shares gain some 56% so far this year, vastly outpacing the 32% advance for the Nasdaq in 2009.)

However, both HP and Informatica have taken great pains to position themselves as independent software providers. Indeed, even as HP announced that it would be doing more with its relationship with Informatica, it also clearly said that it will continue to work with other data management and BI vendors. And on the other side, we noted that ‘neutrality’ may have come up in rumored talks last year between Informatica and Oracle. In any case, the independence and openness stand in contrast to the moves in this market by IBM – the rival that’s the primary target of the deeper HP-Informatica partnership. Big Blue spent $1.14bn in cash in March 2005 for Ascential Software, an acquisition that most observers would say hasn’t delivered.