Thursday, December 03, 2009

"You call that ERP? In MY day..."

A couple of interesting links to pass along:

Houston Neal at Software Advice has put together a nice graphical overview of the events of the past 40ish years in the ERP world. See also a more detailed wiki history, maintained by xTuple's own Wally Tonra.

Always interesting to look back, especially to realize (if the tombstones here don't make the case clearly enough) how many giants of the business just simply don't exist any more.

Along those lines, a quick note: People often ask if all the graveyard imagery is supposed to mean that the products or companies are really dead, or just sleepy. Like soap opera villains, ERP systems never really die - but they can only come back so many times before it gets silly.

So it's a fair point to say, "such and such a vendor has thousands of installs and is still selling the product." Maybe so - but if that product/company has been bought and sold a bunch of times, and it's one of many disparate offerings under a single corporate umbrella, the emptor should certainly caveat.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Can't wait for that Infor IPO? Snack on some Chinese...

So Managing Automation reports that CDC Software, the long-rumored spinoff from the former China Dot Com, is ready to test the public markets.

They're apparently targeting a fairly indiscriminate breed of investor, however; get this:

"CDC Corp., through CDC Software International, would wield 98.1% of the voting interests and an 83.4% equity interest in the company after the offering."

Dang! Those are what we call in the business, management-friendly terms.

I'd be willing to carve off an overvalued chunk of xTuple for something in that neighborhood; please contact me with your sealed bids.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Infor puts Softbrands shareholders out of their misery

To which, the collective world of ERP pundits said, huh?

Softbrands, holders of the Fourth Shift manufacturing product who pinned their entire future business plan on plugging into SAP (and maybe one day being bought by them), decided to sell out to Infor and its Daddy Warbucks Golden Gate Capital, for $0.90 a share, or about $80 million. Well, $41.2 million anyway - the rest goes to paying off debt and preferred shareholders. It's still a nice premium over the $0.47 closing price last Thursday before the deal was announced, as SoftBrands CEO Randy Tofteland helpfully noted: "This transaction allows SoftBrands stockholders to realize significant value from their investment in our company over recent trading levels."

He then continued, "In addition, we increase value to customers through expanded products and services from the alliance with Infor."

Yeah, right. Longtime readers of this blog know what that means.

The 451 Group's China Martens (subscription only) ran down the interesting history of Softbrands, some of which was new to even your humble Graveyard blogger:

SoftBrands has a somewhat complicated history. Fourth Shift Corp was founded in 1984 and was acquired for $40m in cash in 2001 by AremisSoft, a public company that had already bought some hospitality software vendors. AremisSoft started to crumble amid class-action lawsuits and allegations of fraud later that year. SoftBrands came into being at the end of 2001 as a wholly owned AremisSoft subsidiary housing the manufacturing and hospitality products. AremisSoft filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March 2002 and SoftBrands emerged as an independent entity after the reorganization. It raised $20m in external funding before going public in 2005. SoftBrands also made a number of purchases including Medallion, Infra Business Solutions and Hotel Information Systems.
The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that Fourth Shift's special arrangement with SAP is unlikely to survive the new Infor owners. Seeing as how they stopped selling the non-SAP flavor Fourth Shift completely some time ago, it's hard to see how Infor is going to do anything with the Fourth Shift product but dig a hole and throw it in.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

what, Craig Conway wasn't available?

So, Thomas Kelly is out as Epicor CEO, after a less-than-successful standoff with a determined acquirer. And like Peoplesoft founder Dave Duffield, former Epicor boss George Klaus has stepped back in as president, CEO, chairman, and whatever else.

Will he be able to push through a sale with dignity? EPIC hasn't improved much since bottoming out at $3 after the November post below. Man, that $9.50 offer from October must be sounding pretty good.