The rumors began flying Wednesday night that Dell is shopping its portfolio companies — Quest Software and SonicWall — to buyout firms KKR & Co LP, Thoma Bravo LLC and Vista Equity Partners Management LLC.
Reuters, which first broke the news, cited “people familiar with the matter” as its sources.
One obvious reason for selling the companies is to raise money — the companies are each worth around $2 billion — and Dell could certainly use the cash given that it has announced its intention to buy EMC for $67 billion.
But there are other reasons as well. And they’re significant.
But there’s also this: Quest Software, SonicWall and VMware offer products that customers buy to solve some of the same problems. In other words, there would be unnecessary duplication.
Look at the Fat
Enterprises would typically buy one or the other, but not both. Dell’s sale of Quest Software would not only get rid of the duplication, but it might quiet VMware investors because Dell’s large sales team will be pitching only their product rather than both.
It’s important to remember that VMware is an “independent company” and it is accountable to all of its shareholders, not just to EMC’s (and soon Dell’s), which just happens to own 80 percent of its stock.
One is Better Than Two
But VMware isn’t the only EMC-owned company that competes with a Dell/Quest Software property. In some places, EMC’s RSA competes directly with Dell’s SonicWall.
In Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Identity Governance and Administration, for example, RSA sits high in the Leaders quadrant, Dell sits a bit lower in the Challengers Quadrant. Once again, the same Dell customer is unlikely to buy both.
Moreover, in many cases, the seemingly better products (in terms of market share and/or analyst ratings) come from EMC Federation owned entities rather than Dell’s.
Don’t Look, Just Sell?
It could be that Michael Dell and his team haven’t thought that closely about what to keep and what to sell.
“There are many assets in the Dell Software portfolio that will be sold. Bottom line - Dell wants to save itself and will happily unload all the other assets to pay for its debt,“ R Ray Wang, principal analyst at Constellation told CMSWire.
His colleague, Holger Muller, argues that Quest Software is a logical choice.
“The key question is where does Michael and team see revenue coming from in the future. He can't touch VMware — even if it made sense — as part of the financing. And (it) doesn't make sense – VMware provides access to the enterprise.”
Mueller added that Pivotal is too small and too valuable. “So it will be existing Dell assets (that will be sold),” said Mueller.
No More Shopping
One week from today, at 11:59 pm December 11, EMC’s ”Go Shop” period, during which it is allowed to solicit offers that may be better that Dell’s expires. Once that happens, it only makes sense for Dell to begin selling off products that the EMC acquisition will make redundant.
Will EMC Make Any Last Minute Moves?
Whether EMC will sell or spinoff anything that doesn’t logically fit into Dell’s portfolio (can you say Documentum?) before that deal closes is anyone’s guess. A sale or spinoff could bring some much-needed cash to Dell’s books.
EMC’s Content Division (EMC ECD) might be one choice, it’s in the process of building something called Project Horizon that is supposed to redefine Enterprise Content Management for IT’s third era. If the market believes it will succeed, it an easy divestiture. There’s also a rumor that Pivotal will be spun off in 2016.