Monday Deal Rumors

In late September, I posted a blog mentioning that there were more than a handful of rumors flying around about Verticalnet. Since then, I've heard from a number of folks that some type of deal is still in play, but is taking longer to close that many thought. When I confronted Emportis' Avner Schneur last week and asked point-blank if they were acquiring Verticalnet, he said no. But he did confirm that they were being shopped around (this should not be news to anyone who is close to the sector, and it was also obvious that it was in his best interest to say it as well). Regardless, whatever vendor picks up Verticalnet -- if they are in fact being acquired -- will have a great asset in their product and services capabilities, not to mention their customer base.

Capgemini recently published their own report evaluating sourcing vendors in which Verticalnet emerged as a top performer. This should come as no surprise, as Verticalnet has demoed extremely well ever since the Atlas Commerce days when they excelled at AMR Research's only deep dive analysis looking at sourcing providers. Verticalnet's biggest problem of late has been getting invited to the table to dine. Because when they do arrive, they often stand a reasonable shot based on product and services strength, despite the FUD competitors can toss at them because of their public financial situation.

Incidentally, I put a good amount of stock in what the Big 5 have to say about vendors on a feature / function level in product evaluations since their teams are often far closer to the technology and specific customer requirements relative to industry analysts and bloggers (like me) who do not get involved in actually implementing the stuff. Verticalnet's strong performance in CG’s analysis should serve to reassure potential customers that what they are selling is in fact real, and that they’re capable of delivering a level of capability that exceeds that of many of their competitors based on feature / function breadth and depth (though we all know that’s only part of what goes into a winning product).

On a different deal note, apparently there's a solid rumor that the ink is not yet dry on a deal involving Austin Tetra. We'll see if any news hits the wire this week on it, but the possible acquirer in this case is coming from outside of the sector. My sources on this one are solid, and while I would never put anything in the "bankable" category until it is actually announced, I'd put a high probability on it.

For those who do not know Austin Tetra, the data enrichment and enhancement provider is nearly fifteen years old, and sells a toolset that focuses on both customer and supplier data (though from what I've heard, the customer-related data deals are few and far between). Their solutions improve vendor master data quality and also can enrich supplier data in such areas as supplier diversity. Data cleansing is a secondary focus for them. Austin Tetra is partnered with many providers in the space and is clearly an independent "data" arms dealer, much like D&B pre-Open Ratings (D&B also continues to sell these types of data services today in addition to their new supply risk solutions). As an example of their aggresive partnering, AT recently announced a joint solution with Procuri for Supplier Compliance. If the AT deal comes to light, you can be sure that I'll provide a far more detailed analysis of their capabilities and what it means for users as well as D&B and other content providers in the Spend Management market.

Jason Busch

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