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ECM Mergers Continue, Oracle Grabs Stellent

California-based database and applications giant Oracle has finally made an Enterprise CMS acquisition. The company has announced that it will buy Stellent for $13.50 per share, or $440 million, in cash. The agreed amount is more than 25% above Stellentís closing price on Thursday, a boon for Stellent stock holders. However, for Stellentís customer base, the future may not be quite as rosy looking.

For Oracle, the deal is a good one. They lacked a credible Enterprise CMS solution and were loosing out in that market. Partnerships have been a poor substitute. Now theyíve got a fully functional offering and a large client base of over 4,700 ECM clients, whom they just might be eying as future database customers.

Analyst group Ovum predicts the global Content Management software revenues will continue to grow steadily at an average rate of 5.9%, from $3.8 billion in 2005, reaching $5 billion by 2010. While not the most dynamic figure, this is nothing to shy at. By picking up Stellent at approximately 20x of Stellentís projected 2006 P/E, Oracle have themselves a reasonable deal.

For Stellent customers, as analysts such as Tony Byrne and ex-Stellent-employees such as Charlie Wood have pointed out, there are two big gaps between where Oracle and Stellent are today.

The first is a technical one. Oracle is always, always database-centric in its thinking and its product design. This is not the case with Stellent, who have a mixed story for repository services, ranging from the file system to MySQL databases. There will be changes in this story.

The second is the cultural fit between Oracle and Stellent. As both Tony and Charlie point out, Oracle and Stellent cultures are potentially as incompatible as oil and water. Myself having spent years at Oracle can testify to the environment there. While not always true, Oracle does tend to be an aggressive and cut-throat little shark pool, with much of the companyís success built around a, shall we say, strong sales force.

Stellent, on the other hand, has a reputation as a customer pleaser with a geeky environment geared towards delivering solid value. Theyíve successfully acquired and integrated a number of ECM capabilities over the past year and have staked a solid position for themselves in the Enterprise CMS market.

Give their momentum and current success, Stellent is not likely to be pulled limb-from-limb as part of the acquisition process. Nevertheless, the transition to new Oracle masters has never been known to be a gentle one and Stellent customers should keep close tabs on their account managers, database integration and dependency plans, and the new product roadmap.

 
 
 
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