Sitting at O'Hare airport in Chicago, subject to another United Airlines delay, I found a few tidbits worth sharing before I board the place for San Francisco.
On the heels of its annual user conference, BEA investor and so-called corporate raider Carl Ichan is pushing for a sale of the company, and is planning to meet with investors and possibly get involved in formulating a new slate of board members. BEA is in tough competition with IBM and Oracle, and isn't out of the woods on restating financials due to backdated stock options.
HP has been tossed around as a potential buyer but the company has previously dismissed any interest in BEA. Tom Hogan, senior vice president for HP Software, told me in July that BEA is an attractive acquisition target for HP.
“I need to avoid commenting on specific target, It’s a category that is not a short-term strategic priority for us. We are trying to elevate the discussion with the CIO,” Hogan said. “They universally tell us four things. Increase efficiency and reduce cost, not with hardware which keeps getting cheaper, but in the labor it takes to run a business,” he added. “Number two is speed. No company delivers services fast enough to satisfy the line of business executive. Third is the concept of risk and compliance and tools to mitigate risk. The last is automating more things to help free up resources to do new things. It’s estimated that 65 percent of a CIO’s budget is allocated to keeping things running, and the demands are growing exponential as technology evolves. Things like application servers are necessary but insufficient. It’s important techie stuff you have to have. You need application servers, operating systems and databases. It’s not very differentiated. You can’t beat your competition by having a dial tone. It’s low-level infrastructure everybody has to have. We support all industry standards and we operate at a higher level.”
Eweek has an interview with Rob Levy, BEA executive vice president and CTO, about where the company is heading. Levy said, "We need to figure out how to enable the new paradigm of building new composite apps, as well as how we continue to support the hundreds of thousands of customers we have that have what is loosely termed "Web applications." This is really interesting in that I see Web applications that are now legacy applications. So, the first wave of Web applications—the B2Bs, the B2Cs—are now becoming legacy applications when you talk to CIOs. So legacy is not just mainframe applications anymore. But those legacy applications need to be able to talk to composite apps. So we need to do both."
BEA has some proven technology and a host of customers. If not HP, then who? With a market cap of over $5 billion, it will be a company with deep pockets. Perhaps Oracle will just roll it up just like it has competitors in the enterprise applications space.
My old friend Chris Alden (at left) has taken over as chairman and CEO of Six Apart (Movable Type, TypePad). He had been in charge of Six Apart's professional division, and prior to that CEO of Rojo Networks (acquired by Six Apart) and Red Herring Communications, where he was a co-founder and publisher of the Silicion Valley magazine.
Andy Lark, who used to run commuincations for Sun and then for LogLogic, has resurfaced at Dell, where he is vice president of Global Marketing & Communications. I saw him at Dell storage product launch last week with Michael Dell and took this picture, suited up for his Dell position.
In his blog Andy wrote:
Communications is being transformed as a profession and practice – we’re entering a new era in which content, conversations and community are becoming defining forces. As they do, transparency, evidence and corporate journalism really matter. Technology enables us to directly engage our audiences and deliver an unfiltered view – in return we get critical conversations and feedback. I will be able to combine my passion for social media and marketing with that I have for communications on a massive playing field.
And, I’ve always held a soft spot for Dell. I spent time imbedded inside Dell Europe and then consulting to Dell in the US and around the world. It’s going to be fun back in Austin.