Pick up the pieces

by Mark Finnern

What happened? You don't pay attention for a couple of days and the whole ERP competitor chess board gets rearranged?

Invensys sells Baan.
If you remember Baan was a rising star in
the 90s. Some say they promised the world to Boeing and getting that deal opened
the US market for them. Delivering the world was very taxing on their resources
and they got into financial
trouble
too. Invensys bailed them out in 2000 for $708 Million. By then
they were not the up and coming queen anymore and no one wants to bet his game
on a player that needs cash infusions to survive. Consequently the market wasn't
very favorable to them and this week Invensys
sold Baan
to another investment group for $135 Million. But compared to
the other moves this week this one is more like a pawn play.


PeopleSoft is
buying JD Edwards
, which would make them the number two ERP software provider
with combined revenues of $2.8 billion. Just to bring this into perspective
SAP's revenues for 2002 were $7.8 billion. With PeopleSoft's strength in the
HR area and JD Edwards' in manufacturing there are possible synergies in that
marriage. James Governor writing for The
Register
has an interesting angle to the story. He thinks that the merger
is mainly driven by the desire to be the number one player on the IBM platform.


Then on Friday Oracle is banging on the chess board with a $5
billion offer to buy PeopleSoft
. What is fascinating is, that
Larry Ellison is not interested in the software or the
people but in PeopleSoft's customers. Larry
is seen in the industry as a bully
so it is open, whether the
loyal PeopleSoft customers will play with him. Even if he is not succeeding,
this offer freezes PeopleSoft's market. Every prospect will wait and see how
this plays out. PeopleSoft's CEO Craig Conway who used to work for Oracle is
understandably not amused: "atrociously bad behavior from a company with
a history of atrociously bad behavior."


While all the competitors are duking it out in the dangerous and uncertain
area of mergers and acquisitions, SAP
shrugs all that off
and is calmly executing his moves on a different board,
on solving the customers problems, being their trusted innovator and the save
haven in these tumultuous times.