Is Q1 the one for IBM?

Contact: Brenon Daly, Andrew Hay

Despite posturing for a public market debut for some time, we understand that Q1 Labs may instead be headed for a trade sale. IBM is reportedly set to acquire the fast-growing ESIM vendor in a deal to be announced this week. The price for Q1, which recorded sales of some $60m over the past four quarters, couldn’t be learned. Goldman Sachs was in line to be lead underwriter for the IPO but instead will get the print, according to our understanding.

Assuming it closes, the deal would come almost exactly a year after ESIM kingpin ArcSight sold to Hewlett-Packard. (In that process, we gather that IBM was a bidder for ArcSight through the late rounds, as was EMC. McAfee was interested as well but was priced out relatively early on.) HP paid roughly 8 times trailing sales for ArcSight. Slapping that same multiple on Q1 values the Waltham, Massachusetts-based company at nearly a half-billion dollars. IBM had paid a similar multiple for Netezza and BigFix and only a slightly lower one in its most recent significant security acquisition, Guardium.

Rumors about a possible sale of Q1 have swirled for a number of years, with suitors ranging from Cisco to Oracle to McAfee. However, the most consistent name attached to Q1 has been its largest OEM partner, Juniper Networks. Indeed, sources indicated earlier this year that Juniper was considering an acquisition but a wide gap emerged over the valuation. Apparently, Juniper was offering about $300m, while Q1 was holding out for a number significantly higher than that.

BeyondTrust buys beyond its core market

Contact: Brenon Daly

Announcing its first acquisition since the September 2009 combination that created the current company, BeyondTrust recently picked up the assets of Lumigent. The deal adds Lumigent’s database monitoring to BeyondTrust’s core privileged identity management platform, so the purchase is a fairly logical step into an adjacent market. Terms weren’t disclosed, but we would guess that Lumigent didn’t sell for much more than the $4m of revenue that it generated last year. The company had been struggling in part because of a strategic misstep two years ago to go into the market for application governance, risk and compliance.

BeyondTrust paid for the Lumigent acquisition from its own treasury, even though it does have Insight Venture Partners as a backer. And the company is not done buying. We understand that it is likely to announce another two acquisitions this year. BeyondTrust can afford to do deals because it generates a fair amount of cash, running at a 35% EBITDA margin. The company recorded revenue of some $40m last year, up from $32m in 2009. Assuming those transactions go through, we gather that roughly half of the growth at BeyondTrust for 2011 would come organically, with the remaining half coming through M&A.

EMC bolsters security portfolio with NetWitness

Contact: Brenon Daly, Josh Corman

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.