A bidding war (of sorts) between the virtualization vendors

Contact: Brenon Daly

The tech industry has another bidding war. No, we’re not talking about the parrying over 3PAR or even the private equity shops slugging it out over Phoenix Technologies, a company that had largely been consigned to the corporate ash heap. Instead, we’re talking about the latest M&A moves by the virtuosos of virtualization, Citrix Systems and VMware.

Citrix opened the bidding with one deal earlier this week, putting its chips on virtualization management startup VMLogix. One day later, VMware matched the bid of one acquisition and then raised it another one. In a rare twin billing, VMware said it would be taking home both performance analytics startup Integrien as well as identity and access management vendor TriCipher. VMware’s two deals in a single day (do we call the amalgamated company ‘Trintegrien’?) brings its total number of acquisitions so far this year to five, after just one in all of last year. For its part, Citrix had been out of the market entirely since November 2008 before announcing the VMLogix purchase.

Of the three deals, the one that caught our eye was VMware’s pickup of Integrien. That might have been due to the astronomical multiple the startup garnered. We understand that the company, which was only running at about $2m in revenue, went for about $100m. Of course, looking at this transaction on a revenue multiple largely misses the point. Instead, as my colleague Dennis Callaghan notes in his report on the deal, the move makes VMware a legitimate contender in the IT performance management market and could hurt opportunities for other IT performance management vendors looking to sell into the vast VMware installed base.

The acquisition came just one day after Integrien released a special version of its flagship predictive root cause analysis software for VMware environments, so the two sides clearly knew each other. In fact, we gather that the two sides knew each other so well they negotiated directly, without an outside adviser. The VMware team was led on the Integrien deal by Alex Wang. Meanwhile, on the day’s other transaction, America’s Growth Capital advised TriCipher, while Jason Hurst, who recently joined VMware after a long stint as a software banker at Citigroup, led the buyside effort.