Friday, May 26, 2006

Hummingbird Acquired

So Hummingbird has been acquired, and I doubt this is the last ECM acquistion this year. The liklihood is that private equity will move in now to consolidate many of the mid tier players. Speculation is rife around OpenText the other key Canadian ECM vendor.

Hummingbird has had a fairly torid time of things since PC Docs first merged with Fulcrum in 99 (I think). Fulcrum was at the time the leading Enterprise Search tool - the merger turned into a serious mistake and the firm seemed to spend the next 12-18 months battling to decide who was boss. In the process upstarts iManage moved into their Legal space and began quickly to first challenge then replace them. Then connectivity firm Hummingbird stepped in and acquired the PC Docs Group as it was then known. It's been downhill - slowly from that point on.

Yet its worth remembering that PC DOCs was:

  • One of the first EDM (enterprise document management) tools on the market
  • Dominated the Legal sector for years
  • Fulcrum was the finest enterprise search engine in its day.
  • Hummingbird was once one of the top 50 software firms in the world
  • They were pioneers of the enterprise portal

They also recognized very early that the major infrastructure vendors would ultimately take over this space, and were pretty much the first of the larger players to align themselves with one (Microsoft).

So its really rather sad to see them snapped up by private equity (Symphony Technologies), but without this their future looked bleak indeed. The past week or so I have started to feel old as I watch the industry morph into something new. For ECM never really was anything new, it was always more a branding concept for lots of document and web content management technologies bundled together than anything more. WCM was the last real mini revolution, and I was fortunate to ride that wave. But it is still sad to see old timers go, and go largely unreported as people forget how great they once were.

Of course Hummingbird continues - (Symphony did buy them, not close them down!) but the chapter on PC Docs a pioneer in this industry is closed.

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