August 2010
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Warning: Acquisitions May Cause Dizziness, Vomiting, Nausea and Diarrhea

All the tired horses in the sun
How’m I supposed to get any ridin’ done? Hmm.

Where there is smoke, there is fire. In this case, it’ll be a shitstorm of a fire that’ll consume everything useful in it’s path. A bit like a Scorched Earth Campaign of Content Management.

Of course I’m talking about the Autonomy/Open Text speculation here (@hakana), here (@ldallasBMOC) and here (@piewords). In truth, the few rumours are, according to the crowds, highly unlikely to have any substance so this whole post is a waste of time. Apart from photos of CEOs in bed with hookers, no-one in Twitterville can produce a single good reason for it that I can swallow. But if this post even slightly reduces the miniscule chance of this joke of a deal materialising, it’s time well spent.

The whole is less than the sum of the parts

Onward. It’s pretty clear there is no way that this deal could make a new sale more likely. The number of different CMS and search products The Firm would have warrants the invention of a new Collective Noun. How about a Gaggle of Products? Or Confusion of Products. Or Mindfuck of Products? Should some poor customer go through a vendor selection exercise and pick Opentonomytext, they’d need to go through another one to pick the product. Ain’t gonna happen.

And the poor existing customers. Following the Open Text/Vignette deal, many poor customers are still wondering whether or when their product will be discontinued. They’re playing Russian Roulette with about 2 bullets in the chamber. If this deal happens, they’ll have about 4 bullets. Some will jump ship, so the whole idea of creating a maintenance revenue cash cow doesn’t make sense either. In simple maths terms: (Autonomy Maintenance 2011) + (Open Text Maintenance 2011) < (Opentonomytext Maintenance 2011).

Spare a thought for the search engineers at Vignette. They OEM’ed Autonomy as their search for years. “Best of Breed”, they all cried. Then arch-rival Interwoven was aquired by Autonomy. “We’re not paying our arch rival cash every time we sell a product”, they  cried. “Autonomy is a piece of shit. Let’s embed the Open Text search engine.” So they did. Hopefully they didn’t delete the code, cause they may be flipping it back pretty soon.

And spare a thought for yours truly. I’ve pushed my MS Paint skills to the limit creating the Super Spliced Open Text Logo. I think the only way I could make a logo for the new beast is on a Möbius strip, and I don’t have any lying around.

Now I’m not saying that the road ahead for either company is paved with gold. But they’ve both got some good products, some great people and a fair bit of cash. If they roll up their sleeves and innovate, they might just be okay. If they keep playing Pass The Parcel with products that develop more slowly than tectonic plates, they’re toast. Wait! Hold on a second! What’s that putrid smell? Oh, look, it’s an an elephant graveyard. And elephants don’t make good software. Especially dead ones.

P.S. Remember, this isn’t actually going to happen. Surely. They’re gonna buy someone else. Answers on a postcard.

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3 comments to Warning: Acquisitions May Cause Dizziness, Vomiting, Nausea and Diarrhea

  • I laughed out loud :D
    I love that logo. Are you in the business of creating logo’s by any chance? Or do I have to acquire several competitors first? lol.

  • Oh how I do love a bit of baseless speculation, keeps us all amused at least, marvelling at the frank Nstein monster that an Autentextonomy would become. Actually what makes me nauseous is the idea of being acquired by Autonomy at all. Being a little fond of OTEX in spite of their flaws, I really hope the above is NOT true.

    LOL at the Mobius strip. And one quibble. I’d always understood that it was in fact Autonomy who withdrew the OEM rights from Vignette after or during the acquisition by OTEX… Although as @pmonks and @mcboof have both pointed out, it was one of those relationships that was over almost before it had begun anyway. I thought that Vignette had realised they needed an alternative since Autonomy would not allow them to update the OEM version over the years so it was obsolete.

    Let’s see if someone closer to the issue can shed light (or spin a better yarn).

    My other (broken record) comment is that whoever Autonomy acquire, they’re going to have to get better at partnering. Unless they’re also acquiring consultancy + professional and managed services. Otherwise buying MORE STUFF just compounds the issues they already have. They are also going to have to devolve somewhat to successfully manage their expansion. How big can a company grow with the organisational gastric band of two very controlling personalities? Their insides will pop.

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