by Brenon Daly
About a year and a half after Paul Maritz got picked up by EMC, the former Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) honcho has struck his signature deal for his new employers. When EMC reached for Pi Corp, which had yet to release a product, we figured the move was basically ‘HR by M&A.’ And that has turned out to be the case, as Maritz took over leadership of EMC’s virtualization subsidiary VMware (NYSE:VMW) in July 2008. He stepped into the top spot just as VMware’s once-torrid revenue growth had dwindled to a trickle. Sales at VMware rose 88% in 2007 and 42% in 2008, but are projected to inch up just 2% this year.
To help jumpstart VMware’s growth, Maritz looked to the clouds, pushing through the acquisition of SpringSource earlier this week. At roughly twice as much as VMware has spent on its previous dozen deals, the SpringSource buy is the virtualization kingpin’s largest purchase. It was also, as we understand it, a deal very much driven by Maritz. (Because the purchase topped $100m, it also had to be blessed by VMware’s parent, EMC. This indicates that Maritz enjoys a level of support at the Hopkinton, Massachusetts, HQ that probably wasn’t extended to his predecessor, VMware founder Diane Greene.)
As we have noted, no bankers were involved in negotiations and one source indicated that terms were hammered out directly by Maritz and his counterpart at SpringSource, Rod Johnson, in a scant three-and-a-half-week period. Not that there was much negotiating needed. As we understand it, Maritz approached Johnson with a ‘table-clearing’ offer of $400m. SpringSource didn’t contact any other potential buyers, and in fact, the five-year-old startup only weighed VMware’s bid against the possibility of going public in 2011.
However, the source added that getting to an IPO would have likely required another round of funding for SpringSource. The dilution that would come with another round, combined with the deep uncertainty about the direction of the equity markets, tipped SpringSource toward the trade sale. In the end, that decision – and how Maritz executes on his step into application virtualization – will go a long way toward shaping his legacy at VMware.