Cemaphore Systems, the company that makes software that migrates and synchronizes e-mail, calendar and contacts between Google Apps, Microsoft Exchange and other messaging products, plans to announce July 28 that it has been acquired.
In an e-mail sent to eWEEK, Cemaphore Vice President of Marketing Kim Tchang confirmed the company has been purchased and that the announcement will be made next Tuesday. However, Tchang declined to name the buyer.
Though the buyer remains a mystery, one logical suitor might be Sparxent, which specializes in offering hosted IT management systems for midmarket companies.
While this might seem to come from out of left field for industry watchers expecting Google or Microsoft to make a play for the startup, an examination of the company’s most recent press release on Business Wire from July 13 includes the Sparxent boilerplate.
Curiously, Sparxent is not mentioned anywhere else in the release and appears to have no relation to the news, which is about Cemaphore’s participation at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference. A check of the same press release on Cemaphore’s site shows that the Sparxent boilerplate has been removed.
Also, it turns out Cemaphore and Sparxent share ties. Sparxent board member Ed Ekstrom is a managing partner of vSpring Capital, where he led investments in Cemaphore, according to the Sparxent Website.
A Sparxent spokesperson did not deny the bid, telling eWEEK July 23, “At this point we can’t comment on any kind of acquisition rumors.” Reached by phone earlier today, Tchang neither confirmed nor denied the buyer was Sparxent. Philippe Winthrop, who is on Cemaphore’s advisory board and is also a research director at Strategy Analytics, declined to comment until the purchase is announced Tuesday.
Such a deal would make sound strategic sense for Sparxent, which acquired three companies since it formed in August 2008 and has said it is actively acquiring solution providers to build out its portfolio.
For example, if Sparxent is looking to fortify its “systems lifecycle management” products, Cemaphore could be one option. Cemaphore’s software synchronizes users’ e-mail, calendar and contact data bidirectionally in real time.
Where Is Cemaphore Landing?
Cemaphore attracted attention in 2008 for proposing to provide smooth data migration between Microsoft’s Exchange server and Google Apps, a scrappy upstart compared to Microsoft in the messaging market.
Microsoft is the overwhelming leader in the e-mail messaging and server software marketplace, with its Outlook e-mail client and Exchange e-mail server gobbling 90 percent-plus of the worldwide market. Outlook lives on users’ desktops, but it is supported on the back end by Exchange server software.
But some companies are looking to break from Microsoft’s on-premises model and bring their e-mail into the cloud. In cloud computing, users access an e-mail application, such as Google’s Gmail, from Web browsers on their computers.
Google hosts the data created in Gmail on its servers, and is actively looking to move users from Outlook and Exchange to Gmail, the cornerstone app in the Google Apps suite.
E-mail is the central repository of most knowledge workers’ professional communications, so if Google can move Microsoft customers to Gmail, it could lead these enterprise users to adopt other applications in the Google Apps portfolio.
Cemaphore was one possible option to help with this, and Cemaphore co-founder and CEO Tyrone Pike all but put a “for sale” sign on Cemaphore, talking openly about possible acquirers for Cemaphore.
In March 2008, Pike told eWEEK that Cemaphore’s brand of reliable e-mail synchronization software is valuable enough that Microsoft, EMC and Google could all be interested if the conditions are right. Pike even reasoned that Google might be the most likely suitor for his company, which is based in San Mateo, Calif.
However, Google this year made it clear it was going its own path to getting Microsoft Exchange customers. In June, Google launched the Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook synchronization tool to let users access their Google Apps e-mail, contacts and calendar through Outlook.