Since TIBCO’s acquisition and privatisation in late 2014, the once bubbly tibbr has largely dropped off the radar in the social collaboration market, with little in the way of marketing, PR or product announcements for the last 12 months. So is this still an area of investment for TIBCO, or should customers and prospects be looking elsewhere?
A period of introspection and restructuring
After a difficult couple of years for the company in terms of its overall revenue growth, profit and share price, in September 2014 TIBCO announced that it had agreed to be acquired by US-based private equity firm, Vista Equity partners. The deal, which was worth approximately $4.3 billion to shareholders, closed in December the same year, and was seen as an opportunity to refocus out of the public share-trading spotlight.
The impact on TIBCO tibbr of this strategic shift was immediate; having operated as a largely autonomous division until this point – almost like an independent start-up in many ways – in early 2015, the tibbr business gradually began to be absorbed into the central TIBCO organisation. The development team joined the central TIBCO engineering department allowing it to take advantage of the scale and skills of the wider team, and the tibbr sales team was also transitioned across. Unfortunately though, this process was not as seamless – and invisible to tibbr customers – as TIBCO would have liked, and new tibbr customer sales were impacted for a couple of quarters as the new processes bedded in. However, TIBCO asserts that there was no major change in subscription renewal rates for tibbr throughout the process, and in the last quarter of 2015 the tibbr business began to regain its confidence and rebuild momentum around sales, resulting in a record sales year for the product.
From a business strategy perspective, the acquisition has also prompted a refocusing of tibbr’s sales approach. While it previously sought to meet the needs of companies of all sizes, with customers ranging from small businesses with just 100 or so employees through to large enterprises, going forward it is falling in line with the broader TIBCO strategy of targeting just large enterprise needs. Given that all sales are now managed by a single TIBCO sales team, this makes some sense, and will help to improve cross-sell and upsell opportunities throughout the organisation. However, there are implications of this in terms of the primary buyer for tibbr versus other TIBCO applications, but I’ll come back to that later. This large enterprise focus will also have an impact on the product development strategy – both to support the more complex needs of larger businesses in terms of scalability, security and administrative control, and also in terms of the breadth and depth of integrations needed with third-party technologies, for example.