BMC rumored to be going mobile

Contact: Brenon Daly

Rumors are swirling that BMC will announce the acquisition of AirWatch, a purchase that would extend the systems management provider’s reach into the fast-growing mobile device market. The deal, which may print next week, would mark the first major move to consolidate the highly fragmented mobile device management (MDM) space, a market where we count more than 50 vendors of all sizes. AirWatch is one of the largest MDM players, and will get valued that way, according to sources. The rumored price tag is about $250m, or roughly 10 times revenue.

If the deal comes together, it would represent BMC’s only significant acquisition in mobility. The company nibbled in the market last summer, reaching for startup Aeroprise in July. (That was primarily a technology transaction, basically adding mobile capabilities to BMC’s flagship Remedy IT Service Management Suite.) Assuming this deal closes, we would expect other tech giants – both IT management companies as well as security vendors – to look at acquiring MDM capabilities as well.

Numara keeps flowing along

Contact: Brenon Daly

Throughout its long and winding 20-year history, the name may have changed for Numara Software, but the business is still the same. The IT service desk management vendor was originally known as Blue Ocean Software, a name that got erased during the three years the company was owned by Intuit. After TA Associates sponsored a carve-out of the business in October 2005, the newly independent company came up with the name of Numara, a play on its former moniker that means ‘new ocean’ in Latin.

Regardless of what the Tampa, Florida-based company has been called, it has consistently thrown off a ton of cash. According to our understanding, privately held Numara runs north of $100m in sales and north of 35% EBITDA margins. Just recently, the company began to put some of that cash to work in M&A.

After two years out of the market, Numara recently reached across the Atlantic to pick up an Estonian mobile device management (MDM) startup called Fromdistance. (The deal was a tiny one, lining up very closely with the terms for a similar purchase by Research in Motion earlier this year. We estimate that RIM paid about $6m for German MDM startup ubitexx, which was generating less than $1m in sales.) And Numara may not be done shopping. We understand that the company is currently looking at a handful of other possible acquisitions and could well shore up a deal in the next few months.

Oracle: The giant moves quietly in M&A

Contact: Brenon Daly

For a giant of a company, Oracle certainly strikes quietly when it moves to pick up some companies. Consider its latest purchase, the as-yet-unannounced acquisition of data-quality vendor Datanomic. Although Oracle hasn’t formally announced the purchase, the company does have it listed on its Web page for acquisitions. (That listing followed speculation by several market sources last week that Oracle had indeed sealed the deal.)

Oracle has already shown that it is ready to spend to buy in the data-quality market. A little more than a year ago, Oracle reached for Silver Creek Systems, an OEM partner that provided product-oriented data quality. Shortly after that transaction was announced, my colleague Krishna Roy speculated that Datanomic might be the next data-quality-related vendor to get snapped up, highlighting both Oracle and IBM as possible buyers for the UK-based company. We believe that Big Blue did look at Datanomic, which it considered a nice complement to the business it got when it bought Initiate Systems in early 2010. (Initiate had an OEM arrangement with Datanomic.)

Fittingly for a deal that wasn’t really announced, financials also weren’t revealed. Our understanding is that Datanomic had been posting strong growth recently, increasing revenue some 60% last year to about $15m. That rate, combined with the fact that there were undoubtedly other large bidders for Datanomic, make us absolutely confident that this transaction is significantly larger than Oracle’s related purchase of Silver Creek, which we estimate went off at $40m or so. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised to hear that it was in the neighborhood of twice that amount.

Software AG does a bit of MDM shopping of its own

Contact: Brenon Daly, Dennis Callaghan, Krishna Roy

A little more than a year after scrapping its OEM agreement with master data management (MDM) vendor Orchestra Networks, Software AG has picked up its own MDM and data-governance technology. The German company recently reached across the Atlantic for Data Foundations, which we gather was a small purchase of a startup generating less than $10m in sales. Nevertheless, the deal continues the recent consolidation in the MDM market, which has seen fellow big-name buyers such as IBM, Informatica and TIBCO Software make acquisitions here.

A bit of a wonky area of information management, MDM has increasingly become a complementary tool for application integration and business process management software as it helps to make sense of the many different data types that underpin these applications. Further, other rival players have taken a platform-based approach to MDM, combining data-integration and data-quality capabilities into the MDM mix.

We wonder if Software AG will follow suit and enter the MDM platform fray by pairing the Data Foundations buy with another MDM-related purchase. If it looks to do that, we wouldn’t at all be surprised to see Software AG add a data-quality provider to its portfolio. A few names that might be worth a look for the acquisitive German company are Datanomic, DataLever, DataMentors, Datactics, Clavis Technology and Human Inference.

Informatica parlays MDM bets

Contact: Brenon Daly

Informatica’s purchase of Siperian at the end of January marked the data-integration vendor’s first acquisition of a master data management (MDM) company. However, it wasn’t the first time Informatica has put money into the sector. The company held small stakes of both Purisma, which sold to Dun & Bradstreet for $48m in November 2007, and Initiate Systems, which IBM snared last week for what we heard was $425m. Both investments were tiny, with one source indicating that Informatica put less than $1m into Purisma and less than $5m into Initiate.

Though small, the investments certainly paid off for Informatica, coming at a time when most fulltime VCs are struggling to generate any returns. (Never mind the rather dismal, start-and-stop performance of nearly all other corporate venture programs.) We understand, for instance, that Informatica doubled its money on Initiate in less than a year and a half. Who knows, maybe the company just rolled over the proceeds from the sales of both MDM investments (Purisma and Initiate) into an MDM deal of its own. After all, Siperian was the largest buy that Informatica has ever made.

Informatica: an MDM deal of its own?

Contact: Brenon Daly

With one rumored pairing in the master data management (MDM) market still buzzing, word of another deal is beginning to circulate as well. Several sources have indicated that Informatica may have picked up Siperian and could announce the transaction as soon as Thursday, when it reports fourth-quarter results. (On that note, Wall Street analysts project that Informatica will report earnings of roughly $0.28 per share on sales of $139m, which would represent growth of 12% over the previous fourth quarter.) We would note that Siperian has relatively close ties to Informatica, and continues its OEM relationships with two companies the data integration giant previously acquired (Identity Systems and AddressDoctor).

The Informatica-Siperian chatter comes as IBM is thought to be close to announcing the purchase of fellow MDM vendor Initiate Systems. (Once an IPO hopeful, Initiate instead is rumored to be heading to Big Blue, with a deal expected to be announced in the next week or so.) According to our knowledge, Siperian is slightly less than half the size of Initiate, which we estimate finished last year with around $90m in revenue. We understand that Siperian, which now counts more than 50 enterprise customers, recently crossed into profitability.

While we couldn’t learn the exact price Informatica is paying for Siperian, it is likely to be a significant transaction for a company that typically inks deals totaling around $50m. (In the previous seven buys Informatica made since 2002, it paid between $28-85m.) In fact, one source indicated that the purchase of Siperian could be in the neighborhood of twice the size of its previous largest acquisition, its April 2008 pickup of Identity Systems. Informatica closed three deals last year.

Is IBM about to ‘initiate’ a major MDM purchase?

Contact: Brenon Daly

Although we recently noted that SAP may be considering a major master data management (MDM) move, we understand that the next buyer in the market may actually be IBM. We’ve heard from several sources that Big Blue is close to announcing an acquisition of Initiate Systems. If the deal does indeed happen, Initiate would substantially boost IBM’s offering for the healthcare industry. Despite being competitors, Initiate and IBM Global Services have been longtime partners for healthcare projects. The transaction could happen as soon as this week, we’re told. And we gather that it’ll come at a rather rich valuation for Initiate.

One of the largest stand-alone MDM vendors, Initiate filed to go public back in November 2007, but withdrew its IPO paperwork the following summer. (Goldman Sachs was lead underwriter of the planned offering.) Shortly after it pulled its prospectus, it announced a $26m funding round that included strategic investments from both EMC and Informatica. However, we hear that the biggest competition for IBM’s rumored bid for Initiate may have come from the public market.

Given the very real prospect that Initiate could reheat its plans to go public, IBM would effectively have to top the valuation that Initiate could receive in an IPO and afterward. We understand that the company was running around breakeven and likely did just shy of $90m in 2009. (That would imply mid-teens growth from the $76m in revenue that Initiate recorded in 2008.) With that dynamic at play, Initiate may well garner 4.5-5x sales in the trade sale to IBM, according to sources.