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Spotfire Unveils First DecisionSite Upgrade As Tibco Unit; Headcount Remains Stable

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Four months after Spotfire was acquired by Tibco, the integration is proceeding with very little interruption in Spotfire’s activities, according to company officials and a long-time Spotfire customer.
 
This week, Spotfire released the first upgrade for its flagship DecisionSite software suite since the $194 million all-cash acquisition, which closed on June 5.
 
Roger Oberg, vice president of product strategy at Spotfire, which is now a division of Tibco, told BioInform that although there were some areas of “overlap” between the two firms, Spotfire’s headcount of around 200 staffers has remained unchanged since the acquisition.
 
He said that while Spotfire is "serving the same mission" as its new parent company, it has retained much of its existing culture and "style of working."
 
"We retained, for example, our own sales and presales organization. We retained all of the same marketing organization, for example; that is unchanged,” Oberg said. “There was no change in services; no change in sales; no change in marketing; no change in engineering. In fact, in all those areas we are continuing to add headcount … to meet anticipated growth.”
 
However, he conceded that a handful of staffers in finance, human resources, and administrative roles had been let go. In particular, former Spotfire CFO Ed Goldfinger left the company “because we don't require a separate CFO," Oberg said.
 
Spotfire founder Christopher Ahlberg remains with the company as executive vice president of the Spotfire division.
 
For Tibco’s third fiscal quarter, which ended Aug. 31, revenues increased more than 12 percent to $135 million from $120.4 million in the comparable period of 2006. On a pro forma basis, which includes Spotfire’s results from the year-ago period, Tibco’s revenues rose 3 percent to $135 million from $130.6 million.
 
While the company doesn’t break out revenues for its divisions, Oberg said that Spotfire contributed around $7 million in the third quarter of 2007.
 
Christian Marcazzo, senior director of industry solutions life sciences for Spotfire, told BioInform that Spotfire “will continue to run as an independent division, as well as [retain] our chief operating officer and head of sales.”
 
He added that this strategy is in line with Tibco’s previous acquisition history. “If you look at other Tibco acquisitions in the past, they've done a good job [of maintaining existing staff of the acquired company], such as with Staffware, a UK company they acquired a couple years ago."
 

Spotfire “will continue to run as an independent division, as well as [retain] our chief operating officer and head of sales.”

In May, executives from both firms described the acquisition as the combination of complementary technologies, with Spotfire’s analytical tools serving as a front end for Tibco’s middleware offerings [BioInform 05-04-07].
 
Since the acquisition, Tibco has taken a number of steps to push Spotfire’s offering into its legacy markets, such as manufacturing and financial services. For example, microcontroller developer Renesas Technology and chip fabrication firm Dialog Semiconductor are among new customers for Spotfire’s products, and Tibco recently announced a partnership with financial news and services company Reuters under which it will distribute Spotfire’s software to its customers.
 
In May, Oberg said that around 40 percent of Spotfire’s business was in the life sciences market. While he was unable to provide details on how that ratio may have changed since the acquisition, he said the life science sector “remains a big part of our business, as they’ve expanded their use of Spotfire beyond research into product development and sales and marketing.”
 
Indeed, the launch of DecisionSite 9.1 signals that Spotfire has not lost sight of its life science customer base. The new release includes a number of enhancements for chemical analysis in particular. Namely, DecisionSite 9.1 “easily recognizes and imports standard data types, such as SD Files and improves chemical structure visualization,” the company said in a statement.
 
The software is also tightly integrated with products from the Symyx Isentris suite.  
 
"Sometimes, chemists want to simply see the structure of the molecule; they are very visual," Marcazzo said. "Screening researchers benefit from coloring configuration capabilities that better deal with the data distributions commonly seen in high-throughput screening data, to enable better identification of interesting hits."
 
Marcazzo added that pharma is in a “consolidation phase” and that flat research IT budgets have driven a shift in strategy from “buying one of everything to being a little more selective about what they bring in house."
 
Spotfire customer Glenn Wong, operations director at Waltham, Mass.-based Trinity Pharma Solutions, told BioInform that he hasn't seen too many changes since the acquisition — apart from the expected branding changes. His company, a biotech/pharma consultancy, uses Spotfire DXP 2.0, and has been a Spotfire customer for "about two or three years."
 
While he said that overall he is happy with the "new" Spotfire, he said there has been some minor confusion regarding software contract details.
 

"There was one time when we needed to turn around something quickly that was related to our contract, and our Spotfire friends thought they could do it, and then came back and said, 'Actually, now that we are under Tibco, we are going to have to do things slightly differently; let me get back to you.’"

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