Citrix's $200 Million Sapho Buy Bolsters Digital Workspace Strategy

COMPANY ACQUISITION: In a significant buildout of its digital workspace strategy, Citrix announced it has bought micro apps provider Sapho, which it plans to integrate with its own services designed to make enterprise employees more productive.

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Business productivity software maker Citrix announced the purchase of micro apps provider Sapho Nov. 15 in a move that both companies said is a great fit.

“As a startup we were focused on one thing, but customers want better analytics and workflow, and putting us together is a no-brainer,” Fouad ElNaggar, co-founder and CEO of Sapho, told eWEEK. “There is almost 100 percent overlap with the customers of both companies, and they are really excited.”

What got Citrix excited enough to make an all-cash offer of “around $200 million” for Sapho is technology that fills out its unified workspace offering.

“Our focus is on empowering a better way to work, which we’ve done by offering unified access to everything an employee needs to work, from enterprise and web apps to content wherever it is across multiple devices and locations. You log in once with one experience, whether that’s in the cloud or on premises,” Tim Minihan, executive vice president of business strategy at Citrix, told eWEEK.

Saphos Anticipates an Employee's Needs

“As a major micro apps service provider and employee portal, Sapho lets employees get the insights and access they need at the right time without having to spend a lot of time going through layers of hard-to-use enterprise applications,” Minihan said.

As an example, Minihan said Sapho would alert a manager to approve an expense report in SAP Concur enterprise time and expense software. “Expenses are something managers handle in addition to their main job; it’s not the thing they were hired to do,” he said.

ElNaggar explained that Sapho goes beyond just notifying you of an action—it also extracts the relevant task. Typically, you would have to log in and make your way through an enterprise system of record to complete the task.

“We are pulling a little atomic unit of Concur, the purchase requisition, and you can click right there and get it done whatever device you are on or whether you’re in Microsoft Teams or email,” ElNaggar said.

Minihan compared it to ordering a Lyft or Uber on your phone or other consumer-friendly apps that take just a few clicks to operate. Citrix Workspace is designed to automatically serve up tasks that knowledge workers need to focus on and speed the process of getting them done. Sapho’s micro applications consolidate access to tools, activities and tasks in an easy, unified work feed.

Personalizing the Workplace

“The Citrix/Sapho deal is pretty interesting, especially how it aligns with practices that focus on ‘personalizing’ the workplace in order to enhance employees' experience and productivity,” Pund-IT analyst Charles King told eWEEK. “We've seen this before in broader initiatives, like BYOD, but it also reflects a common belief that younger, savvy workers will gravitate toward employers who understand the value of intelligently using technology.”

Teams at Citrix and Sapho already are working together on integration and hope to have Sapho completely integrated as part of the Citrix Workspace offering by the middle of 2019. Sapho has about 90 employees, most of whom will move from the company’s San Bruno, Calif., headquarter to the Citrix main campus in nearby Santa Clara, Calif. ElNaggar said Sapho has a large engineering team in Prague, Czech Republic, that will now become a global engineering center for Citrix.

451 Research analyst Chris Marsh said that a growing number of organizations see a need to securely aggregate and automate access to applications and data from an increasing number and variety of sources, both on-premises and in the cloud. 

“Citrix understands the need and is evolving its workspaces product to balance security with an improved end-user experience with the goal of elevating employee productivity, and reducing frustration with corporate IT systems among users,” Marsh said in a media advisory.

David Needle

David Needle

Based in Silicon Valley, veteran technology reporter David Needle covers mobile, bi g data, and social media among other topics. He was formerly News Editor at Infoworld, Editor of Computer Currents...