Tom Petrocelli's take on technology. Tom is the author of the book "Data Protection and Information Lifecycle Management" and a natural technology curmudgeon. This blog represents only my own views and not those of my employer, Enterprise Strategy Group. Frankly, mine are more amusing.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What the…?

Okay, the 3Par bidding has hit the $2B level. That’s nearly twice the opening bid of $1.1.5B. The first bid seemed high but the offers have now gone into the exosphere. For those who don’t remember their 8th grade science, that perilously close to being in orbit. It’s a place where there is practically no air. Get that? No air to breathe.
Considering that 3Par had revenue of US$168M in fiscal 2010 (resulting in a net loss by the way), HP is bidding almost 12 times last year’s revenue! That’s insanely high. Even at an accelerated growth rate, HP won’t make that back before I’m a grandfather. Trust me, that is a long time from now (or better be – you kids listening?). This bidding war has generated a lot of analysis, including mine. Theories range from Dell and HP vying for the number 2 spot in storage behind EMC ( I like that one) to HP’s Dave Donatello being on a mission from god. Okay, not a mission from god per se but the storage business equivalent. At these numbers, none of the theories including mine make any sense.
Look, 3Par is a great company with a lot going for it. It is also a company that would have eventually topped out like Brocade. It might have hit the $500M level but not much more. Selling out is the best thing that they can do for their stockholders. David Scott, 3Par’s CEO, has really done his job.
As it stands, it is hard to imagine HP or Dell seeing much return on this investment. The number’s are just too high. Here’s my theory: like at an auction, these companies are now just into the bidding. The original reasons for doing the deal are now tangential. It’s about winning. It’s about the emotion.
My advice to Dell, let HP take it. Let them spend huge amounts of money that could otherwise have gone into a new storage product. Use the money you have set aside for this purchase to buy someone else. It’s not like there aren’t a bunch of companies out there. Isilon, Compellent, Xiotech, they’re all independent right now. Heck, buy Data Robotics. They’re private and everyone seems to love their stuff. I know it’s not “enterprise” but you could probably sell a boatload of those Drobo arrays to the SOHO market and walk them up to the mid-range. You would certainly see your way to a ROI much faster.
These numbers just don’t make sense anymore.

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