Tibco, Business Intelligence, and Open Source—Not Search

April 29, 2014

I read “Consolidation Looms in Business Intelligence, as Tibco Buys Jaspersoft for $185M.” The write up is interesting, but not exactly congruent with my views. May I explain?

The article points out:

Enterprise software vendor TIBCO has acquired Jaspersoft, an open source business intelligence company, for approximately $185 million. It’s not an earth-shaking deal, but it could be a sign of things to come in an analytics software market full of companies and products that have a hard time standing out from the crowd.

MBAs will drooling at the thought of business intelligence deal making if the article’s premise is correct.

But there are several other angles in this Tibco Jaspersoft tie up.

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First, check out the list of open source “leaders.” Jaspersoft appears in the list, but with its number six on the “Top of Mind Emerging Companies in Data Discovery Chart,” the response to this deal might be “Who?” The other factoid I gleaned from the Gigaom Research chart was who the heck are SiSense, Logi Analytics, and Roambi. I can only wonder at what firms account for the “other” category. Tibco bought an open source analytics company that is one of those “we’re open source but commercial too” outfits. The purchase price, compared to the deal for Autonomy, is a rounding error in the Autonomy transaction. I find this interesting because Autonomy IDOL does business intelligence, visualization, and a number of other enterprise software functions as well. My take. Why is an open source business intelligence deal going for what seems to be a bargain price?

Second, Tibco did not buy a search company. Jaspersoft is a business intelligence outfit. But what does “business intelligence” mean? A review of Jaspersoft’s products and services points to analytics; that is to say, math. The cloud angle is interesting, but I am not sure how Tibco will convert open source into a hefty chunk of the astronomical $50 billion market the Gigaom research is available for the taking. Is analytics business intelligence? At least, I can sort of define “analytics.” I am not so confident about “business intelligence.”

Third, the implications for search and retrieval are not particularly positive. Search vendors with odd ball product line ups are saying, “We are a business intelligence company.” Maybe so. Without a definition of “business intelligence”, search vendors can say almost anything and be “accurate.” For me, search is clearly a marginalized sector. IBM bought Vivisimo and, as one of my editors, discovered promptly discarded Vivisimo’s roots in clustering and metasearch for the foggy description of “information management.” I wonder if some search vendors are in the undefined Gigaom “other” category.

In my view, search and possibly some “business intelligence” vendors may be dismayed by Tibco’s deal. Can investors recoup their funding for their business intelligence bets? There is a big difference between the estimated $20 million IBM paid for the struggling Vivisimo and the $185 million Tibco paid for Jaspersoft when compared to the $1 billion Oracle paid for the aging Endeca technology. I don’t see consolidation. I see “everything must go” opportunities.

Stephen E Arnold, April 29, 2014

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