Announcing its first deal in almost five months, EMC moved to bolster its security management portfolio by picking up fast-growing NetWitness. The purchase adds the rich network data and powerful analysis capabilities of the NetWitness NextGen platform, which is a bit like a TiVo for network traffic – capturing, indexing and storing massive amounts of network traffic. From a financial point of view, it is EMC’s first significant security acquisition since buying RSA Security in mid-2006.
In fact, we would estimate that the price of NetWitness tops EMC’s spending, collectively, on the four bolt-on acquisitions it has made to RSA since the $2.1bn deal. According to our understanding, NetWitness more than doubled revenue to about $45m in 2010. Given the growth rate and premium customer list NetWitness had assembled, we have no trouble believing market speculation that EMC paid $450-500m for NetWitness. A double-digit multiple isn’t out of whack for a fast-growing startup that has strategic value to EMC. We understand, for instance, that last summer EMC paid just shy of $400m for Greenplum, a data-warehousing startup that was clipping along at just under $30m in sales.