Tibco has made a serious foray into the business intelligence area via its announced acquisition of Spotfire this week. Spotfire has built up an excellent position in the visualisation space, starting in the pharmaceutical industry and then expanding into areas like upstream oil services. Based in Stockholm, it has successfully penetrated the US market, and its CEO Chriotopher Ahlberg has always impressed me. In a sea of failed visualisation vendors which never seem to catch on properly, Spotfire has a been a rare commercial success.
Spotfire’s revenues are not public, but are likely to be around USD 50M, so the USD 195M cash price paid for the company is a healthy one, reflecting Spotfire’s excellent momentum and differentiated technology. What will be interesting is to see whether Tibco is really the company that is best placed to exploit Spotfire’s technology. Tibco’s strong position in financial services will give Spotfire access to an attractive market. and while the companies’ technologies are broadly complementary, visualisation is a different animal than EAI, so it is less clear to me that the Tibco salesforce will be ideally placed to understand and successfully explain the benefits of Spotfire. The stock market seemed a little unconvinced as well, Tibco’s share price dipping on the announcement. Sensibly, Tibco is retaining the Spotfire brand and keeping the company as a separate division under Christopher Ahlberg.
Given the scale of the acquisition, this signals a serious move by Tibco into the broader BI market.