UNICOM Nabs Versant for Object-Oriented Databases
October 23, 2012 Alex Woodie
UNICOM expanded into the object oriented database data realm this month when it announced plans to buy Versant, a publicly traded developer of several object-oriented databases, for about $32 million.
Founded in 1988 as Object Sciences Corp., Versant was an early proponent of object oriented databases, which store data as objects. Object database management systems (ODBMS) bring performance advantages over relational database management systems (RDBMS) in powering applications that are written in object oriented languages and require storing of complex objects.
Versant’s first product was the Versant Object Database (VOD), which began to gain steam in the early 1990s and is still actively developed today. VOD runs on Unix, Linux, and Windows operating systems, and excels at running applications with high concurrency and performance requirements such as trading platforms, telecom network management systems, airline and hotel reservation systems, and risk analysis for banks, according to the Wikipedia entry on Versant.
Versant changed its name to Versant Object Technology in 1993, went public on the NASDAQ exchange in 1996, and changed its name to Versant Corp. in 1999. In 2004, it acquired Poet Software, the German developer of an ODBMS called FastObjects. In 2008 Versant acquired another ODBMS, called db40, which is an open source ODBMS project founded in 2000 by Carl Rosenberger.
Today, Versant continues to sell and develop VOD, FastObjects, and db40. The company has struggled to generate sales over the last several years, as revenues have dropped from $25.3 million in 2008 to about $16.3 million last year. The company, which is based in Redwood City, California, has remained profitable, however, and continues to develop new software and seek new customers and OEM partnerships with ISVs.
Versant’s board approved the sale to UNICOM. The deal calls for Versant shareholders to be paid $11.50 per common share, a 17 percent premium on Versant’s closing price on September 28. The transaction is expected to complete before the end of Versant’s current quarter ending January 31, 2013. Versant is free to seek alternative deals through October 29.
“This merger will deliver premium value and liquidity to Versant’s shareholders. Versant is excited to partner with UNICOM to continue to expand the company’s market leadership position,” stated Versant president and CEO Bernhard Woebker in a press release.
The sentiment was echoed by Corry Hong, founder, president, and CEO of Mission Hills, California-based UNICOM, who noted that Versant’s Redwood City and Hamburg offices “will enhance our existing presence in both California and Germany.”
UNICOM has acquired a number of software companies over the last several years, including SoftLanding Systems, a developer of change management software for the IBM i server.