Being a longtime enterprise software guy I tend to think of technology architecture when you mention the word “platform” to me. It’s only been in the last couple of months that I started to appreciate what was going on with platforms in our business, starting with Sage and Golden Gate Technology Group, to Oracle, and most recently Salesforce.com. Bear with me as I run through some of these companies and, hopefully, tie it all together to make some sense.
Sage is a pretty well known group out of the UK that has been buying up software companies in the mid-market for quite some time. Dismissed by the larger vendors, they are often referred to as “Microsoft’s problem” in reference to the fact that many of the companies they have acquired have traditionally competed with Microsoft (and Intuit). While acquiring some well known desktop packages like Peachtree and ACCPAC, Sage has also acquired some not so well known vertical solutions like Timberline in the construction vertical. Say what you will about Sage but they are still a billion dollar a year software company and there aren’t too many of those these days.
Golden Gate Capital (and The Gores Group for that matter, but I’m going to focus on Golden Gate for the purpose of this post) is an interesting bird. While primarily a private equity firm, this group has raised a lot of capital and taken Geac, a moderately large public enterprise software company, private and layered on additional acquisitions under the brand name Infor. The bottom line on Infor is that they have acquired a bunch of software products and done very little to innovate, rebuild, or integrate them… their primary focus is leveraging sales cycle efficiencies for capital returns.