Brio Hopes to En-Sqribe a Mark in BI Space

Racing to keep pace with buyer demand for end-to-end business intelligence suites, Brio Technology Inc. ( snapped up enterprise reporting/information portal vendor Sqribe Technologies (

The deal was valued at about $270 million when it was announced in late February. Completion of the merger is expected in June, with Brio shareholders retaining 55 percent of the combined company and Sqribe shareholders getting 45 percent.

The two companies are of nearly equal size: Brio’s 1998 revenues totaled $41 million, Sqribe’s were $39 million. Brio’s growth curve has been slightly sharper than Sqribe’s, but both companies have been enjoying strong year-over-year growth.

The combined $80 million company will do business under the Brio name and compete primarily against Brio’s existing business intelligence rivals: Business Objects SA (, Cognos Inc. (, Seagate Software Inc. ( and Hummingbird Communications Ltd. (

Traditional business intelligence used discrete query, reporting and OLAP analysis tools. Recently, the focus has changed from the power users, who can wring analysis out of complicated OLAP and query tools, to the less technologically sophisticated executives, who can use the information on a day-to-day basis. This shift demanded ease of use and an increase in the enterprise portions of reporting functions -- the capability to push data onto hundreds or thousands of desktops and beyond the firewall to mobile and remote users.

Last April, Brio formed a partnership with Sqribe’s enterprise reporting rival, Actuate Software Corp. ( Under the deal, Brio and Actuate offered a so-called best-of-breed solution, where the companies did some interoperability work on their products then marketed them as a package. Now, the arrangement with Sqribe will bring those types of capabilities into the core of Brio’s suite.

Brio recently unveiled the beta version of an upgrade to its business intelligence suite, Brio Enterprise 6.0, which is scheduled for general availability in the second quarter of this year. New since version 5.5 are capabilities for developing and delivering analytic applications, a new report designer capable of drawing from a wider range of sources and enhanced support for multidimensional databases. Server enhancements include load-balancing and failover features; support for SSL, firewalls and proxy servers; and query processor tuning that the company says triples concurrent processing capacity.

Bringing Sqribe into the fold and introducing a strong upgrade to its suite, "are mandatory steps for Brio in remaining one of the top four or five players in this space," says Bob Moran, an analyst with Aberdeen Group (

The addition of Sqribe, in particular, gives Brio a head start on the business intelligence market’s emerging enterprise information portal segment, which has few players. One competitor includes Information Advantage (, and with the recent announcement that it would acquire PC Docs Group (, Hummingbird is signaling that it too plans to head in this direction. Sqribe’s ReportMart Enterprise Information Portal is aimed at providing a single point of access to business information stored in a wide variety of formats. "As such, [Sqribe] has moved quickly in the emerging enterprise portal market," says David Folger, a program director for workgroup computing strategies at Meta Group (

If executed properly, the merger could prove to be a good fit for both companies, says Mike Schiff, a principal analyst with research firm Current Analysis ( "We believe that this acquisition makes a great deal of sense," Schiff says. "We would certainly be disappointed if, a year from now, tomorrow's combined company whole did not far exceed the sum of the today's individual parts."

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