IBM analyses Coremetrics, makes a deal

Contact: Brenon Daly

We were close on our earlier rumor-mongering on Coremetrics, but tapped the wrong buyer. Four months ago, we heard that the Web analytics firms was in play and had retained Goldman Sachs to represent it. (And, indeed, Goldman did advise Coremetrics in the process.) On June 15, IBM said it was picking up Coremetrics for an undisclosed amount. Originally, we thought made the most sense as the buyer for Coremetrics.

It’s not hard to imagine that IBM’s desire for Coremetrics increased significantly after its two most-recent acquisitions, Sterling Commerce and Cast Iron Systems. For instance, Coremetrics would give much more insight into the activities on the business-to-business network that Big Blue picked up three weeks ago when it paid $1.4bn for Sterling Commerce. Coremetrics has some 2,100 customers.

Even with this deal done, we still think Coremetrics would have been a natural fit for, and would have given a significant boost to the company’s effort to diversify from its legacy sales force automation (SFA) business. Sales of that product still account for two-thirds of overall company revenue. recently indicated it was willing to go shopping to increase its non-SFA business, reaching for business directory provider Jigsaw Data. At $142m in cash, the price of Jigsaw was more than spent, collectively, on its previous seven acquisitions. Who knows, maybe will turn to fellow analytics firm Webtrends, which is owned by buyout shop Francisco Partners. Incidentally, one of Francisco’s founding partners, Sandy Robertson, serves on’s board of directors.

A Coremetrics sale to

Contact: Brenon Daly

Could this be a case of history repeating itself? A Web analytics vendor pulls out at the last minute of a technology conference at a boutique bank, and then announces that it has agreed to a richly priced sale of the company. That’s the way it played out last fall with Omniture at ThinkEquity’s conference. And at least part of that has happened with Coremetrics this week at Pacific Crest Securities’ Emerging Technology Summit. (Coremetrics was slated to present at the event Thursday morning, but canceled its appearance, officially because the presenter was ill.)

Of course, there’s been a lot of M&A buzz around Coremetrics in recent weeks, with at least two sources indicating that the company had retained Goldman Sachs to represent it. As to who might be a buyer for the Web analytics shop, we come back to one name: We understand that the CRM giant was acutely interested in Omniture and, according to some sources, was the cover bidder in that process. (Omniture, of course, ultimately sold to Adobe in a somewhat puzzling pairing.)

Coremetrics’ analytics would fit neatly with’s sales and marketing offering. Both are also SaaS companies. And, as we noted last month, the profitable company, which has about $1bn in cash available, has announced plans to raise another $500m in a convertible offering. Altogether, that’s plenty of cash to cover a potential purchase of Coremetrics, which would probably go for several hundred million dollars. And if the Coremetrics sale parallels the Omniture sale in that the analytics company goes to a somewhat unexpected buyer, we might put forward Autonomy Corp as a possibility, as my colleague Nick Patience did in a recent report. The acquisitive British vendor also recently announced plans to raise a slug of money.

Omniture: the optimistic opportunist

-Contact Thomas Rasmussen

After digesting its $382m double-down acquisition of competitor Visual Sciences last year, Web analytics firm Omniture is bullish on buying. At the Pacific Crest Securities conference last week, the company outlined its M&A strategy, which essentially boils down to one word: opportunistic. It tucked in its struggling competitor Mercado Software for $6.5m in November 2008, adding an estimated $12m to its top line. The company had raised $66m in venture capital over the past 10 years. Omniture told us some of Mercado’s large customers had in fact approached it to do the deal. Moreover, Omniture said its remaining privately held competitors Coremetrics and WebTrends are struggling. The company added that it’s seeing an increasing amount of their customers transition over (some even in mid-contract), and it’s ready to deal, as long as it’s at 2009-type discounts.

Not so fast, say the two firms, which we estimate ring up combined revenue of just south of $200m. WebTrends, which PE shop Francisco Partners took off of NetIQ’s books in 2005 for $94m, says that despite a shakeup in management, the company is well positioned. It cites profitability, consistent quarter-over-quarter growth, its highest revenue quarter in its history last quarter, and says it has no need for further funding from its rich backer. (Reports Thursday indicated that Francisco is set to begin raising a third fund, targeting at least $2bn.) Meanwhile, Coremetrics seems to have overindulged on venture capital, closing a $60m series E round last March, bringing its total raised to date to $111m. We tend to get skeptical when this happens, especially in this environment. However, CEO Joe Davis assured us that having shelved further funding-related expansion plans, the company has the majority of the latest round in the bank. Its January restructuring will return the company to cash-flow neutral this month, and cash-flow positive going forward, and it is on track to grow revenue 20% year over year. The CEO added, “Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated by my competitor.”

With more than $80m in cash and short-term investments, its profitable standing and surprisingly upbeat outlook, Omniture can certainly handle a few more tuck-ins. Will it scoop up its feisty rivals? At the moment, it certainly does not look like it. In fact, competitors Coremetrics and WebTrends, which haven’t been in the market since 2006 and 2007, respectively, say they are looking at doing some buying of their own and have the cash to do so.

Omniture M&A

Completed Target Enterprise value Revenue multiple Price per customer
November 2008 Mercado Software $6.5m 0.5x* $32,500*
January 2008 Visual Sciences $382m 5.0x $240,302
December 2007 Offermatica $65m 7.2x* $650,000

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase *451 Group estimate