Dell as a mobile manager?

Contact: Ben Kolada, Rachel Chalmers, Chris Hazelton

Dell hasn’t hidden its intentions of leveraging its hardware legacy to extend into the enterprise IT market, particularly in regards to software. The PC and server giant recently reinforced its goals with the $2.6bn acquisition of systems management vendor Quest Software. But, as we point out in a recent report, its next move is likely to be in mobile management.

Former CA Technologies CEO and current head of Dell’s software division, John Swainson, made our job a bit easier. Swainson hasn’t been explicit with his plans, but we read some of his recent statements as a signal that Dell may make an imminent move into mobile device management.

That makes sense. Connected devices are the primary target for new applications. They’re also fountains of data that can be gleaned and distilled into BI – which is among the four focus areas for Dell’s software group: security, systems management, business intelligence and applications. In a report detailing the possible future of Dell’s mobile management, we prognosticate about how the company may move into this sector, and with whom. Click here to read the full report.

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What’s a Smarsh to do?

Contact: Ben Kolada

Depending on which way the bidding goes for systems management vendor Quest Software, Smarsh’s future could change considerably. The compliance-focused archiving startup announced in February that it sold a majority of its equity to Quest, just three weeks before its newfound parent became the center of an ongoing bidding war. But one side’s plans for Quest post-close may not include Smarsh.

After the closing bell Tuesday, Vector Capital joined Insight Venture Partners and Quest’s management in announcing that they had increased their offer for Quest to $25.75 per share, for a total deal value of about $2.24bn by our calculations. The revised bid tops a competing offer from an unidentified suitor – widely believed to be Dell – that was announced last week.

While all eyes are on Quest at the moment, the continued bidding casts a shadow over who will ultimately own Smarsh. Right now, the company is seen as more of a Quest investment rather than an operating business unit.

If Insight and the rest ultimately win Quest, Smarsh could be considered just another portfolio company for the private equity firms. However, if that unidentified bidder is Dell, and Dell ultimately wins, Smarsh could soon be cast off, since Dell already offers archiving products competitive to Smarsh. In 2008, Dell acquired MessageOne – a direct rival to Smarsh – for a whopping $155m. Dell also has its own archive storage system, the DX platform, based on software OEMed from Caringo. (However, we’d note that neither of these initiatives seems to have gone too far yet.)

Rather than worry about would could happen in the future, Smarsh is keeping itself busy in the present. The company has announced two acquisitions in the past month. In May, Smarsh bought Web content-archiving vendor and on Tuesday it announced the purchase of compliance-focused website hoster AdvisorSquare, which targets the finance vertical. The deals should ramp up the company’s growth rate for 2012 and 2013. We estimate that Smarsh generated $20m in revenue last year, or about 30% year-over-year top-line growth.


Date Event
February 14, 2012 Quest Software acquires 60% stake in Smarsh.
March 9 Insight Venture Partners and Quest management offer to buy Quest for $2bn.
May 16 Smarsh picks up
June 14 Unidentified bidder offers approximately $2.22bn for Quest.
June 18 Smarsh acquires AdvisorSquare from Symantec.
June 19 Vector Capital joins Insight and Quest management to buy Quest for approximately $2.24bn.

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase

For more real-time information on tech M&A, follow us on Twitter @MAKnowledgebase.

In leap year, tech M&A falls

Contact: Ben Kolada

The extra business day in February did little to prop up tech M&A volume, as the number of deals announced last month dropped to one of the lowest levels seen in the past year. The 257 tech acquisitions we recorded in February was one-third less than January’s total and 17% less than the trailing 12-month average. Although it’s impossible to predict the volume and value of tech acquisitions, one explanation is the somewhat seasonality of the business. In eight of the past 10 years, we saw a rise in sequential January deal volume followed by a dip in February volume.

Even total spending came in below the annual average. While the total amount spent on tech acquisitions in February ($10bn) was more than double what we recorded in January, it was still about half the average of the trailing 12 months. However, February wasn’t a complete wash. On a positive note, many of the largest technology companies were active in M&A last month: Akamai picked up small front-end optimization startup Blaze Software, Apple bought Chomp, Cisco acquired Lightwire, its largest deal since Starent Networks in 2009, F5 Networks reached for Traffix Systems and Quest Software scooped up BlueFolder. Further, we recorded four billion-dollar transactions in February, compared with none the previous month.

Still, the sharp downturn in volume marks a stark contrast to what’s been happening in the equity markets. Last month, we wrote that behavior in the stock markets is one of the main influencers on big-ticket M&A, and that big-ticket deals set the tone for overall dealmaking. But while the Nasdaq composite index continued its steady rise, reaching its highest point since the stock market crashed in the early 2000s, tech M&A volume in February moved in the opposite direction.

Quest builds up vWorkspace with RemoteScan buy

Contact: Karin Kelley, Ben Kolada

In its latest desktop virtualization and management play, Quest Software has announced that it is purchasing the assets of imaging device management vendor RemoteScan. The deal lands Quest more healthcare accounts, mostly in North America, but the company plans an aggressive push into European markets next.

Quest will integrate eight-year-old RemoteScan’s assets, including all of its employees, with its vWorkspace group. The tiny target was launched in 2003 with RemoteScan for LAN, but has since been focusing most of its efforts on RemoteScan Enterprise and RemoteScan Universal. The deal gives vWorkspace one more competitive feature – wide driver support for imaging devices in LAN-based VDI and terminal services environments. Most of RemoteScan’s customers are in healthcare, although the vendor claims some traction in financial services and insurance markets. The products work with Windows Terminal Server and Citrix’s XenDesktop and XenApp, and support all other virtualized LAN environments using Microsoft’s RDP and Citrix’s ICA graphics-remoting technology.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but we understand that RemoteScan has had considerable success over the years, having lined up some 20,000 customers, with particular strength in the medical vertical. Since it hasn’t taken any institutional funding that would propel its growth, we bet that its revenue is still in the single-digit millions. And while Quest generally pays in line with broader market valuations, RemoteScan could have gotten somewhat of a premium, since companies that are successful in targeting the medical vertical typically get higher-than-average valuations.

Searching for identity, Quest picks up e-DMZ

Contact: Steve Coplan

Quest Software has announced the acquisition of e-DMZ Security, an independent and self-funded player in the growing privileged identity management (PIM) market, for an undisclosed sum. The PIM market originally coalesced around compliance requirements for enforcing the separation of duties for administrators and logging their access to sensitive systems, but security and governance concerns have added further impetus. While certainly attractive given its discrete focus and capital structure, e-DMZ also appealed to Quest on the basis of its proxy-based architecture (and a new set of capabilities to constrain the sudo command environment). (Click here for our full report on the transaction.)

This is Quest’s second acquisition in the identity management market (broadly defined), following the purchase of Völcker Informatik last July. That deal marked a sea change in Quest’s identity management strategy – and signaled that M&A would play a key role in that strategy. Quest’s identity management portfolio has held the most appeal for IT administrators relying on Microsoft Active Directory (AD) to manage users, a constituency that Quest describes as ‘AD-centric.’ The Völcker buy showed that Quest is looking to migrate from serving this well-defined customer set with an array of operational tools to addressing more fundamental enterprise-level requirements for provisioning, entitlement management, auditing and compliance based on a service-oriented architecture.

PIM was already a category on the M&A radar before Quest’s purchase of e-DMZ. However, the deal does remove one potential acquirer from the list for the remaining vendors in the market, including Cyber-Ark Software, Lieberman Software, Cloakware (a division of Irdeto, which itself is a subsidiary of media conglomerate Naspers), BeyondTrust and potentially Xceedium and FoxT technologies. On the other hand, the transaction will likely reinforce the rationale for an acquisition that is already in motion.

Startup scrap sales

With new funding difficult to come by, many cash-burning startups are finding that they have no choice but to take a scrap sale. Those desperate deals cut M&A spending on VC-backed startups in the second half of 2008 by nearly three-quarters over the same period in 2007. From July to December last year, 100 venture-backed startups got acquired, for a total bill of just $3bn. That compares to 153 startups sold for a total of $11.1bn during the same period in 2007.

And we’ve seen more of these types of deals so far this year. Oracle, SAP, Barracuda Networks and Quest Software, among other large technology buyers, have all purchased companies for less than the money raised by the startups, according to our estimates. Consider the specific case of Mirage Networks. The network access control (NAC) vendor raised some $40m before discovering that NAC wasn’t really a market after all. (The eight-year-old company generated an estimated $5m in sales last year.) Trustwave picked up Mirage for some $10m, we estimate. Meanwhile, Mazu Networks will have to hit all of its earn-outs to make its investors whole again. About a month ago, Riverbed Technology said that it would pay $25m upfront for the network security vendor, with a possible $22m earn-out. That’s actually not a bad outcome for unprofitable Mazu, which we understand was burning about $1m each quarter. And yesterday, Netezza picked up the assets of data-auditing and protection vendor Tizor Systems for $3.1m; Tizor had raised $26m from investors.

VC-backed tech startups M&A

Month 2007 deal volume 2007 deal value 2008 deal volume 2008 deal value
July 23 $2.3bn 21 $994m
August 18 $1.2bn 16 $497m
September 25 $1.7bn 16 $642m
October 39 $2bn 13 $487m
November 27 $3.1bn 20 $346m
December 21 $788m 14 $56m
Total 153 $11.1bn 100 $3bn

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase

Quest shops again, virtually

Contact: Simon Robinson, Brenon Daly

A year after closing a deal with Vizioncore that got Quest Software into the storage virtualization market, the company went shopping again this week. The systems management company picked up some of the assets of venture-backed MonoSphere, most notably its Storage Horizon product. This is a storage analysis and reporting tool designed to help storage managers assess the capacity optimization of their existing multivendor arrays so they can reclaim unused capacity and project future requirements more accurately. Storage Horizon will slot into Quest’s portfolio for managing storage in virtualized server environments, which is currently sold under the vOptimizer Pro brand.

As part of Quest, MonoSphere may well have the opportunity to deliver on the promise of its technology. (It was that potential that attracted some $41m in backing from Intel Capital, ComVentures and Lightspeed Venture Partners.) On its own, MonoSphere didn’t have much to show for itself. That’s a familiar story concerning other storage-reporting specialists, which often find that large enterprises are hesitant to buy such tools from small vendors, especially when their existing suppliers are happy to offer similar functionality for little or no cost. But with Quest, which counts more than 100,000 customers and expects to report some $730m in 2008 revenue, MonoSphere may be able to land customers that had previously slipped through its hands.