Acquiring Technology vs Squandering Dollars

 

It continues to amaze me how companies acquire technology and then either do not a lot with it or, in many cases, just kill it. This blog from 31st Oct by Citrix caught my eye https://www.citrix.com/blogs/2017/10/31/the-future-of-octoblu-and-citrix-workspace-iot/ and I started to think about the multitude of tech that has been acquired during my tenure in this industry, the list is truly endless. For this post, I thought I would focus on some of the acquisitions that have occurred on my “watch”.

  1. The one that makes me most sad is Vizioncore vRanger. In its heyday, it was the leading 3rd party VMware back up solution – it was the dominant player in the mid 2000’s prior to Veeam’s dominance. I was proud to be a consultant to Vizioncore and the team from early 2006 to mid 2009. Quest acquired it (and the company) in 2008 and that was the start of a its downward path. New versions that were developed had significant issues and there was much market trashing going on in 2010 IIRC. Quest still sells vRanger, and has ported it to HyperV, but its decline is vSad to me and I don’t hear of it being used by customers or being mentioned anymore in the circles that I move in.
  2. During my tenure at Citrix, many companies and technology were acquired. The acquisition of Insignia took place in early 1998. Some of the tech was integrated into WinFrame, but the key assets were the developers in my opinion, plus the opportunity to rapidly build out our UK presence. We went from a serviced office in Bracknell to Insignia’s offices just outside High Wycombe. So that acquisition was actually fruitful! Others were not so successful! There was video technology from an Israeli company, there was the Sequoia acquisition that was going to make us a leader in portal technology – NFuse was the product outcome and I attended a launch of it at the Nasdaq in New York with a number of European journalists – and, of course, there was the eye-wateringly expensive XenSource acquisition (I’d left by then!) A list is available on Wikipedia of all 49 acquisitions/mergers – I’d wager that the majority of them have disappeared into oblivion!

  1. VMware too has made many acquisitions, some are now bearing fruit (NSX via Nicira) but some have either fallen by the wayside or have been sold back out – Shavlik and Zimbra to name but two. I’m a bit perplexed as to why the CloudVolumes acquisition in August 2014 doesn’t appear on VMware’s own list – have I missed something?
  2. Whilst the acquisition of Sun Microsystems by Oracle in 2010 wasn’t on my “watch” having been a Sun employee back in the good ol’ days, it is one that matters to me. A good friend was pretty senior in Sun at the time of the acquisition and what followed was the epitome of how not to integrate people. I won’t disclose details but it was a nightmare for them and resulted in a nervous breakdown, it was that bad 🙁 But it would appear Oracle has now shutdown SPARC and Solaris according to this article by ZDNet in September. So, despite spending over $7bn, Oracle let the sun set on a great set of products in my humble opinion.

Of course, many mergers and acquisitions are successful but I still wonder about the many unsuccessful ones – how on earth do companies’ executives get away with spending so much money only to discard the technology in time? Answers on a postcard please!

 

Disclaimer: I’ve not personally used any of these products in production either now or in the past (apart from a SPARC workstation back in the day!), this post is just my view of the situation, so please feel free to correct any misconceptions I may have 🙂

 

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2 thoughts on “Acquiring Technology vs Squandering Dollars

  1. Jane, one of the biggest turkeys of recent years has to be DSSD. EMC purchased them for $1bn and invested perhaps another $300m. Then under Dell EMC the product was killed off. The purchase was way too early. EMC also had issues with the maturity of XtremIO and ScaleIO, although the former has paid back that investment. There are probably dozens of others we can think of. I wonder how many were competitive takeouts and we were never meant to see again?

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