HP today announced that they will acquire data warehouse and analytics platform provider Vertica of Billerica, MA. Cowen and Company estimated the price at 5x revenues, estimating that Vertica did $40M in 2010 revenues, suggesting a valuation of $200M which I find low. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were twice that given the hotness of the space, the gradual opening of the IPO window, and the opportunity cost for Vertica of forgoing independent growth. See the bottom of the post for more math fun and guessing.
[Update: I have now heard valuation guestimates including “over $300M” and “north of $500M” so at this point I’m starting to get confused — rumors around valuation usually converge, not diverge. Yesterday, the 451 Group said they believed the price was $275M up-front with up to a $100M earn-out that can be earned over time through performance. This makes sense to me both in terms of valuation range and in terms of the confusion about valuation.]
This move follows on EMC’s July acquistion of Greenplum, rumored to be in the $400M range.
The move marks Leo Apotheker’s first big move as CEO of HP and — finally — gets HP into the data warehousing and analytics market in a real way. (Let’s not talk about NeoView which, for whatever reason, was never taken seriously in the market.)
Many folks, including me, thought HP missed their big chance to enter the DBMS and data warehousing markets by failing to scoop up Sybase back in May, which SAP did for $5.8B.
The move is probably a change in direction for HP’s software head, Bill Veghte, who joined HP in May from Microsoft, where he had spent his entire career after graduating from Harvard, and where he was most recently responsible for shipping Windows 7. Based on his background, I suspect that Veghte was going to head into data center, security, and infrastructure (a la the $1.5B acquisition of ArcSight in September). Perhaps Leo’s moves into data warehousing, analytics and presumably one day — enterprise applications — will complement, rather than replace, that more infrastructure-oriented strategy.
Yesterday, The Mercury News ran an interesting piece on HP’s new non-executive chairman of the board, Ray Lane, who was appointed at the same time as Apotheker, and who has already taken major steps to reshape HP’s board. Lane was instrumental in steering Oracle out of a financial crisis in the early 1990s and driving their growth throughout that decade.
I suspect this is HP’s opening move. There will be many more to come.
Guessing Vertica’s Size: $25 to $35M-ish
LinkedIn says Vertica has 96 employees. For West Coast companies this figure is usually quite accurate; let’s assume it is for Vertica. “Normal” productivity of $250K to $300K/head implies revenues of $24M to $33M. LinkedIn says Vertica has 36 employees in sales. If one of three of those are quota carriers, then you have 12 quota-carriers at “normal” productivity of $2M implying $24M. Alternatively, if you assume 15% of a enterprise software company’s headcount is quota-carrying that implies 15 quota carriers at $2M each yielding $30M. All of this is very back-of-the-envelop and breaks under high-growth rates.
Nevertheless, I’ll guess they are $25 to $35M in revenues, suggesting that a $200M exit would be 6-8x revenues and a $375M exit would be 11-15x, basically validating the possibility of $200M+ up-front price with a performance-based earn-out.
I’m Dave Kellogg, consultant, independent director, advisor, and blogger focused on enterprise software startups.
I bring a unique perspective to startup challenges having 10 years’ experience at each of the CEO, CMO, and independent director levels across 10+ companies ranging in size from zero to over $1B in revenues.
From 2012 to 2018, I was CEO of cloud enterprise performance management vendor Host Analytics, where we quintupled ARR while halving customer acquisition costs in a competitive market, ultimately selling the company in a private equity transaction.
Previously, I was SVP/GM of Service Cloud at Salesforce and CEO at NoSQL database provider MarkLogic, which we grew from zero to $80M in run-rate revenues during my tenure. Before that, I was CMO at Business Objects for nearly a decade as we grew from $30M to over $1B. I started my career in technical and product marketing positions at Ingres and Versant.
I love disruption, startups, and Silicon Valley and have had the pleasure of working in varied capacities with companies including Bluecore, Cyral, FloQast, Fortella, GainSight, MongoDB, Plannuh, Recorded Future, and Tableau. I currently sit on the boards of Alation (data catalogs), Nuxeo (content management) and Profisee (master data management). I previously sat on the boards of agtech leader Granular (acquired by DuPont for $300M) and big data leader Aster Data (acquired by Teradata for $325M).
I periodically speak to strategy and entrepreneurship classes at the Haas School of Business (UC Berkeley) and Hautes Études Commerciales de Paris (HEC).
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