On Aug. 22 BEA announced it was acquiring Plumtree Software for $200 million. By any stretch, this is a fire sale price with Plumtree’s 10 years of operating history, 700 customers (including some large notables such as the US Army, US Navy, Airbus, Ford, Proctor & Gamble, Swiss Re), and 21 million reported users. In addition, Plumtree has failrly significant intellectual property with .NET and J2EE implementations. It also has $70 million in cash, lowering the acquisition cost still further.
According to IDC, Plumtree was #5 as a general portal vendor, behind IBM and BEA itself, among others. Nonetheless, this acquisition appears to be the end of the independent general portal vendor. Corechange (acquired by Open Text for $4.2 million in 2003) and Epicentric (acquired by Vignette for $32 million in 2002) were the previous two independent portal vendors.
Is it open source? Is is the failure of the general portal model? Is is ongoing consolidation? Is is another example of BEA stumbling its way? Is it all of these?
Only time will tell. My own suspicion, however, is that the document challenge remains sufficiently broad and interconnected that the general portal is merely a gluing framework, and not the most important piece at that.