Archive December 1998 — IBM rides with Great Plains

Soon after Open Text Corp. bought Information Dimensions Inc., it began pursuing a merger with PC Docs Group International Inc.

It was December 1998, and vice-president of product marketing, Dan

Latendre, said the move would help the company become bigger, stronger and a leader in the knowledge management software market.

Despite analyst opinion that it was not an opportune time for a union of companies (PC Docs was still trying to digest Fulcrum Technologies Inc. of Ottawa, and Open Text had bought Ohio-based IDI only nine months earlier), Open Text executives tried to sell PC Docs on the merger by playing up the advantages to shareholders.

Open Text shares were trading for more than five times the price of those of PC Docs, promising investors a 35 per cent boost to their stock.

But the bid ultimately failed, as did a play for Accelio in 2001. Over the last few months, however, Open Text has had more luck with these kinds of strategic endeavours. It purchased German content-management companies Gauss Interprise and IXOS Software AG earlier this year.

In the late 1990s, Great Plains Software of Fargo, N.D. teamed up with IBM to provide a hosting service for its Canadian customers.

The idea behind the partnership was to offer outsourced information technology to businesses that couldn’t bring it in-house, Great Plains said at the time. As a result, small and mid-size companies would be able to cut the need for staffing, training, systems and hardware that’s tied to financial management services.

Some of the Dynamics financial management applications that came with the hosting service included system manager, general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable and FRx financial reporting tools.

A few years later Microsoft Corp. spent more than $1 billion to acquire Great Plains Software, in an attempt to entice small and medium businesses.

GB Micro was eager to distance itself from its stable of memory products and strengthen its profile among retail customers in 1998.

So the Ville St. Laurent, Que.-based company piggybacked Fujitsu hard drives onto its multimedia product line. “”It’s not a case of us abandoning memory,”” Aaron Muscott, GB Micro’s marketing coordinator, said. “”We want to increase our memory business, but we don’t want to rely on it.””

The move seemed smart, but GB Micro failed to escape the memory market crash a short time later that put it on the verge of bankruptcy. Refusing to give in, it began to pay off creditors in an arrangement made in December 2001, and set its mind to winning back customers.


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