Syncsort acquires Trillium

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Well, I have to say that I didn’t expect this. For reasons I shall get to in a moment, I probably should have – but I didn’t. Of course, I knew that Harte-Hanks was looking to dispose of Trillium (see http://www.bloorresearch.com/analysis/clarity-begins-to-emerge/) but I thought there was a good chance that it wouldn’t happen. This was because I couldn’t see an obvious buyer. What I had missed was that Syncsort got acquired at the back end of last year, by Clearlake Capital. And I had also missed that the company has been busy appointing new executives and has already made one acquisition this year.

What perhaps should have alerted me to Syncsort as a possible home for Trillium was that the company contacted me in October. The subject was not to do with Trillium but the very fact of that contact was significant. This is because I have known Syncsort for years – decades actually – and the company has never, ever, in all that time, proactively reached out to engage with me. This arguably should have alerted me to the fact that the culture at Syncsort is changing. Historically, I have always regarded the company as having excellent technology but zero marketing: things now appear to be different.

Anyway, as far as the acquisition itself is concerned, it looks pretty logical: both Syncsort and Trillium are heavy on the technical excellence side of things; both of them are enterprise level players; both have mainframe deployments as part of their target markets; and both have a significant focus on Hadoop and similar environments. Add to that the fact that data integration and data quality are long-standing bedfellows and what’s not to like? Once the initial disturbance over the acquisition is overcome, I can’t see any obvious downsides from this merger, and I can see lots of potential upsides.

Perhaps more interesting is speculation about the future. Will Syncsort follow the path trodden by Informatica? Specifically, is the acquisition of an MDM vendor on the cards? Alternatively, will the company move into the data preparation space and acquire the Trillium partner Unifi? Or both? Perhaps less obviously, the company could move towards the Internet of Things, possibly acquiring a stream processing platform.

No doubt there are other possibilities but my guess is that this is not the last acquisition that we will see from Syncsort. However, I do think it needs to be focused. Too often companies have taken a more scattergun approach to acquisitions and this doesn’t work: you end up unable to be clear about your corporate strategy. Provided that Syncsort has some sort of clear vision about where it wants to go and what it wants to become, then this shouldn’t be an issue. In the meantime, this looks like a seriously good match for both Syncsort and Trillium, and for their respective customer bases.