As most involved in the broad content management market, I’ve seen the news of the week: Adobe acquires Day Software, the hot WCM vendor.
I have known and respected Day for a while: they deliver neat technology, have a clean business model and contribute significantly to open source. Plus, I appreciate the people I know from there.
Waking up on Wednesday and seeing the news starting to pour in my tweet stream was a big surprise. I thought about it a bit over the breakfast. My take: great for them, I know some people in the industry are going to hate it, but won’t be change much for Nuxeo and for the open source projects Day’s people are leading. So sent some congrats, a dinner invite, and went on my day waiting for the analysis and industry reaction overview from our great CMO later in the day. Which, in turn, confirmed my take. All good, move on.
I’ve been asked a few time about my opinion and gave it. Until the last time when I thought “but what if Adobe doesn’t follow the Day way?”. Because many people have talked about Adobe closing more of Day’s technology and I don’t buy it. Developers working on the open source project are well respected, they will continue to work on those projects be it for Adobe or for an other company. So that wouldn't be a problem.
The question that started puzzling me is: What if Adobe goes onto a more open way? First reaction: That would be huge!
Imagine, for a second, that Adobe open source the whole CQ5 product. You have:
CQ5, great WCM software considered as one of the best in its category (the best?), available as open source
Day’s team, a team that knows how to ignite and lead communities
Adobe’s marketing war machine to let the world know
You get a winning product, with the capacity to transform the WCM market. By commoditizing this technology, Adobe would hit hard its competition in the WCM market. Despite the fact that it would unify some of the opens source WCM crowd, EMC/Fatwire, Autonomy/Interwoven, OpenText/RedDot/Vignette/Obtree and friends would be under heavy attack.
Adobe could concentrate on monetizing global service offerings: Omniture, Livecycle, end-to-end workflows for medias, acrobat.com on steroids, more online services, etc. Commoditizing the core WCM technology would keep the competition busy and let them make money where they hardly have any meaningful competition, innovate more with new services spanning and leveraging the wide reach of their offerings. We also would see an ecosystem thrive on CQ5, providing the ignition — for free — Adobe needs to enter the market. Kinda the Google way, after all.
Actually the more I think to this and after having read Adobe’s plan for Day, I think it’s the best way to achieve it. If they truly want to create a platform for customer engagement management, this is the way. This is how the industry builds big platform nowadays, by open source software.
All this for a mere $240M and -$50M in revenue addition. That would be the slam dunk that Laurence Hart doesn’t see coming!
Am I crazy enough to think that Adobe will execute this? No. And I haven't thought all this thoroughly. But that would be really fun to watch!
Onto some real work now,