Emperor Maximilian I of Habsburg cultivated the motto, “Bella gerant alii, tu felix Austria nube” (What others achieve by war, let you, happy Austria, achieve by marriage). This morning’s announcement that Autonomy (AUTNF) is acquiring Interwoven (IWOV) for $775M would have made Maximilian proud. Indeed, while some (including Alan Pelz-Sharpe at CMS Watch) have gone as far as to call Autonomy a holding company, I think of Autonomy more as a Habsburgian dynasty.
Autonomy’s acquisitions over the past decade include:
- Softsound (speech recognition)
- Virage (multimedia search)
- etalk (call center software)
- Verity (enterprise search)
- Blinkx (multimedia search, since divested)
- Zantaz (email archiving and litigation support)
And now Autonomy acquires Interwoven, a player in the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) space. It’s not quite an AOL-acquires-Time Warner moment, but it is dramatic to see an enterprise search player acquire a content management player. Indeed, most of the speculation last year was that Autonomy would be acquired, not vice versa.
What does this mean for the rest of us? Given that Autonomy and Interwoven have both been focusing on the compliance and e-discovery space, it is reasonable to expect that the acquisition will deepen this focus. The more interesting question, at least to me, is what this means for the rest of the enterprise search space. Autonomy was recently crowing that it “has won the enterprise search wars“. That’s news to me, but I won’t claim to be objective. In any case, with Autonomy focusing its investment in the compliance / e-discovery space and Microsoft acquiring FAST in order to fold its technology into SharePoint, I do wonder what will happen to the competitive landscape of enterprise search. Will it be Endeca vs. Google?
7 replies on “Autonomy acquires Interwoven: Felix Nube”
How active is Google, in all reality, in the Enterprise Search space? I know they have an offering.. but do they really work on it? They’ve let other search offerings languish.. I remember there was a period of 8-9 months when Google Image Search remained static. Are they the same way in the enterprise?
They may not be putting much effort into improving it, but they certainly put effort into marketing it. And they are making sales at the low end of the market–not a bad strategy in a price-conscious economy. Everyone may know that you get what you pay for, but a lot of people are tempted when they see a low-priced option.
Moreover, the market is necessarily informed enough the perceive the differences among the enterprise search offerings. That’s why I’ve been such a strong advocate for education–my presentations may be good PR for Endeca, but primarily my goal is to inform. Of course, I know that a more informed market will given even more business to Endeca. But presumably our competitors have analogous sentiments–or at least they should, if they have similar pride in their offerings.
And I’m especially excited about the SIGIR Industry Track this year. I’m hoping to announce some of the speakers in the next days.
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I don’t believe that Google has much to offer the Enterprise search space yet. I tested out their box a while back and it seemed very limited. We indexed a typical set of enterprise documents, did ‘popular queries’ and it predictably returned a big pile of self-similar documents.
Enterprise search needs structured search, faceting, browsing, entity extraction, recommendation, social bookmarking etc to make it more than just a search box that returns 10 blue links. I also believe that pagerank is near useless in E-S, corporate document collections are 80% not cross-linked.
My take is that E-S is wide open on two fronts.. consumer facing (to help them find what to buy and get service on, and knowledge worker facing to help them sort through the mass of self-similar documents.
E-S needs a ‘lens’ that learns from usage and /not/ a passive filter of information.
Disclosure: I used to work for RightNow and lead development of several large scale search engines for the CRM segment of Enterpise search.
Neal, if you click through the “Endeca vs. Google” link at the end of my post, you’ll see that I’m not exactly a fan boy for Google’s enterprise solutions–and that’s not just because I work for Endeca. I sometimes wonder how seriously Google takes its efforts in this space.
I agree with everything you have to say about the needs of enterprise search. Those are the kinds of concerns that drive my work at Endeca.
[…] the big news in the enterprise search space about Autonomy and FAST last week, the announcement of Lucid Imagination raising $6 million may seem […]
[…] take: Microsoft sees SharePoint + FAST as a response to Autonomy + Interwoven, or vice versa–Microsoft’s acquisition predates Autonomy’s by a year. Both […]