PR Oddities on the EMC X-Hive Deal

Perhaps it’s because I ran high-tech marketing departments for years before joining Mark Logic that I’m abnormally attuned to the corporate news roll-out process, but I’ll say that I’m finding EMC’s PR around (what I’ll now have to call the rumored) acquisition of X-Hive quite strange.

Look at the timeline:

  • The first story breaks Friday 7/20 on eWeek, here. This is not a leak-type story. It’s a complete, standard news story with an EMC spokesperson, an analyst (who’s presumably been briefed prior to the interview), and an X-Hive spokesperson all quoted.
  • My Google alert catches it on Saturday morning UK time. Thinking I’ve got a timing scoop, I’m worried that the deal will already be official by the time my flight lands in SFO. (What Google giveth, United taketh away?) My inner journalist wants to blog before I board, but I run out of time.
  • Before boarding, however, I find and read two other stories: the CMS Watch story here, and the Gilbane story, here.
  • I blog my first post on it, here, on Saturday 7/21 around 2:00 PM. By that time, I’m amazed that I can’t find a press release from either company nor any trace of the deal on either company’s website. I figure perhaps eWeek messed up an embargo — but then did CMS Watch and Gilbane do the same thing? One seems possible; three seems improbable.
  • While the size of the transaction (which I’d guestimated here as between $25M and $50M) means it’s probably financially immaterial in a $3B/quarter company, I figured they’d launch Monday before the markets opened. (It’s good PR hygiene to launch corporate news when the markets are closed, imho.)
  • It’s 7:55 PM California time on 7/23 — three days after the eWeek story — and there’s still no news release nor trace of the deal on either website.

I have one observation and two theories.

The observation is for marketers: this a case study in how you don’t want to roll-out news. Fortunately, for EMC it’s a tiny transaction in a corner of the company, so there’s no real egg on the corporate face. But if something like this happened on a major launch, I’d bet that some marketing heads would roll.

Now, the theories. Either (1) they’re planning on announcing this on the EMC quarterly conference call at 830 AM Eastern tomorrow (register here) and somehow the PR and IR teams got de-synchronized. Or (2) somehow marketing got out ahead of the deal finalizing and perhaps something’s gone wrong on that front. I’m betting on (1) but you never know.

This post is really about the launch of the deal, on the assumption it’s happening. If you want my thoughts on the deal itself, see the post I did Saturday.

Update: EMC’s 2Q07 earnings release is out and there’s no trace of the deal in it, nor any separate news releases on the topic. The plot thickens.

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