MicroStrategy committed to independence, founder says

IT industry speculates on who will be the next BI buyout

IBM's purchase of Cognos immediately fueled speculation about which business intelligence vendor would be the next to sell out to a software giant.

MicroStrategy and SAS seem to be likely targets, Forrester analyst Paul Hamerman says, but MicroStrategy co-founder Sanju Bansal insists his company plans to remain independent.

"The lawyers say you can't put it in a press release, you can't announce [that you'll never be acquired]. However, I can tell you we're very committed to this idea of independent business intelligence," Bansal, MicroStrategy's COO, says.

MicroStrategy is publicly traded but Bansal says its management team has voting control over the shares by virtue of owning so-called super-voting shares, which carry more power than regular stock.

A potential suitor "could try [a hostile takeover], although they would be unsuccessful without the consent of the management team," Bansal says.

IBM's US$5 billion (NZ$6.6 billion) purchase of Cognos was the latest step in a mass consolidation of the BI market.

Oracle agreed to purchase Hyperion for US$3.3 billion in March, and SAP snatched Business Objects in October for US$6.78 billion.

Business intelligence tools are popular among IT executives these days, so analysts say more consolidation could be on the way. While SAS is another potential target, it is privately held and therefore would be somewhat difficult to acquire, Hamerman says.

Noting all the BI market consolidation, Bansal bills MicroStrategy as the "Switzerland" of business intelligence, saying his company's software is optimised to run on just about any other vendor's system.

MicroStrategy technology works "with all the database players, all the ERP players, all the operating systems, all the different web portal players," Bansal says. "Many CIOs prefer the open stack model where they're not locked into an operating system, a database, a set of hardware."

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