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A Busy Year for ECM Investments

This was posted less than one hour before Open Text announced it would buy Documentum (a.k.a. EMC-ECD).  My assessment of the acquisition is here.

You have to look closely but there’s really a lot going on in the financial world around Enterprise Content Management.  There is more out there than what will happen with Documentum.  With a deal in the works now on HPE software, an EMC – ECD (Enterprise Content Division) deal may be close.

First off, these are my personal opinions and not those of Big Men On Content (BMOC) as a whole, any other BMOC blogger, nor our affiliated companies past or present.  This opinion has been formulated based on my years in the industry along with what I’ve seen or heard in the news.

ECM Mini-Market Recap

Last week, HPE sold its remaining software assets, Autonomy and Interwoven, to British software firm Micro Focus.  OpenText also bought HP Team Site assets back in April, which was once part of Interwoven.

In the same deal, it had earlier been reported that Thoma Bravo was interested in HPE’s software assets.   Thoma Bravo is an investor in Hyland, the makers of OnBase.  Earlier this year, it was reported that Thoma Bravo was looking at Lexmark, with its Perficient and Kofax software lines.

In April, Lexmark was acquired by Apex Technology. As of now, Lexmark continues to focus on both software and printer markets.

Last summer iManage became independent again as it spun out of HP.  They are now focusing on Contract Life Cycle Management solutions.

One can’t forget new ECM vendors either.  Nuxeo just got another $20M from VC’s bringing their total to $30M this summer.  Meanwhile, M-Files got $36M from VC’s back in March.

The last year has not been quite.

Which brings me to EMC – ECD

Ever since Deal announced it was acquiring EMC, the rumors were that ECD would be sold.  The deal closed last week with ECD becoming part of Dell.  Still the speculation lingers on a potential sale.  With Micro Focus purchase of HPE, a buyer may emerge for Documentum.

Technology Services Group gave their thoughts on the near future of DocumentumJohn Newton, co-founder of both Documentum and Alfresco, also gave his thoughts.  So I thought I’d share my thoughts on a possible candidate.  Again these are my opinions.

Private Equity – My best bet is on private equity.  Looking at the news around HPE, several private equity firms are mentioned: Thoma Bravo, Vista Equity Partners Management, Carlyle Group and TPG Capital.  Any of these would now be potential investors in Documentum.

Still, I didn’t see why Thoma Bravo would invest in Lexmark.  I questioned Lexmark’s overlap with Hyland OnBase.  With ECD there’s even more overlap with Documentum, ApplicationXtender, and Captiva.  An investment by Thoma Bravo without combining the two might work.

With private equity the question then becomes, who would be the management team.

Software Vendors – I really see this as the long shot.  The usual names that come up don’t make sense.  Oracle has moved on already.  Microsoft’s focus is on Azure verses Amazon Cloud Services.  SAP has Ariba and SuccessFactors which give them out of the box content enabled business solutions.  Open Text and Computer Associates could acquire ECD for their revenue stream, but that would be a large acquisition for just a revenue stream.

I have some other thoughts:

Adobe could use this to build on it support of documents and PDF.  They have a web content management solution but don’t have a document management solution.  Adobe has tried to build an ECM solution of their own.  An acquisition would give them that.

Box could easily get enterprise credibility and a revenue stream from ECD.  They have a great cloud sharing solution and beat financial expectations this past quarter.  ECD would bring them to profitability and give them an upsell customer base.  Box’s partnership with IBM is giving them enterprise credibility.  Owning Documentum would allow them to have both sides of the story.

Global Systems Integrator – In a completely different direction on possible candidate.  Global Systems Integrators, like TCS or Wipro, could easily use this to expand into the software space.  Some even have the cash on hand needed.  The solution development required to deploy Documentum could continue to drive traditional services revenue for GSI.   So I wouldn’t be surprised.

It’s all speculation and guesses.

At the end of the day it’s all speculation and guesses.  While I can imagine Documentum spinning out of Dell/EMC with Dave DeWalt coaxed out of retirement to re-energize the team.  (Jobs did come back to Apple.)  I doubt that’s going to happen.  My thoughts are leaning towards either Adobe or Box.  I think the ECD product lines would find the fit it’s been looking for since 2003.

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