As the world’s largest and richest software company, Microsoft gets a lot of targets hung on it. Companies of all sizes are drawing a bead on Microsoft, whether it’s a startup looking to undercut or outperform one product or a fellow tech giant deciding Microsoft is making too damn much money on some particular line of business and buying a competing offering. (There are a lot of those cash-rich products at Microsoft, which hums along at an astounding mid-30% operating margin overall.)
Consider who’s been targeting Microsoft Exchange Server lately. In the last year, tech heavyweights Yahoo and, most recently, Cisco have both inked multimillion-dollar deals that allow them to offer a way around Exchange. The goal: siphon off some of the more than $1bn in high-margin revenue that flows to Microsoft from its email and collaboration server product line.
The first shot was fired almost exactly a year ago, when Yahoo spent $350m for Zimbra. (As a side note, it would have been interesting to watch how Microsoft if its planned $44.5bn purchase of Yahoo had gone through would have killed off Zimbra. We’re guessing it would have immediately and forcefully ‘cut off the air supply,’ to borrow a time-honored strategy in Redmond.)
In a direct echo of that deal, Cisco went shopping two weeks ago and found its own Linux-based replacement for Exchange, paying $215m for PostPath. Cisco says it picked up the five-year-old company, which had pocketed about $30m in venture backing, to enhance the email and collaboration tools available in WebEx.
Whatever the motivation, we’re guessing that at least one of PostPath’s board members may be relishing the chance to stick it to Microsoft. Bob Lisbonne, who led Matrix Partners’ investment in PostPath, spent a half-decade at Netscape, including the time in which Microsoft was trying to ‘cut off the air supply’ of the browser pioneer. Not that business is ever personal, of course.
Going after Exchange
Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase