Citrix acquires productivity startup Sapho for US$200m

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Citrix acquires productivity startup Sapho for US$200m

Citrix, looking to help its enterprise customers achieve greater worker productivity, on Thursday revealed the acquisition of Sapho, a startup with an intelligent portal for engaging employees.

Citrix will pay $200 million for the company that leverages artificial intelligence to unbundle monolithic systems into component pieces, streamline internal workflows, and drive smarter decisions.

"Our mission was to use intelligent augmentation to change the productivity equation for all workers," Sapho CEO and co-founder Fouad El Naggar told CRN USA.

"Now we're joining the Citrix family and turbocharging that vision," El Naggar said.

Sapho developed its Employee Experience Portal to help large companies cull information from their existing systems of record, wherever they were hosted, and generate an integrated feed to any endpoint, from mobile devices, to the Alexa voice assistant, to collaboration products like Microsoft Office 365 and Slack.

"Wherever the employee was, we wanted to allow them to do their work at the edge," El Naggar told CRN USA.

The deal is highly strategic for Citrix as it builds out its vision for an intelligent workspace, David Le Strat, vice president for product management at Citrix, told CRN USA.

Sapho's "action-oriented personal assistant for every employee" will be embedded into Citrix Workspace, Le Strat said.

Workspace is a client-side app for any device and operating system that serves as a user portal for ingesting all Citrix back-end services, as well as dozens of apps from popular Software-as-a-Service vendors.

The Sapho platform applies AI to learn about users from their activity and then surface high-priority events, identify trends, and flag anomalies. The platform can also integrate with external AI technologies to enable natural language processing for chat interfaces.

Citrix CEO David Henshall introduced Workspace at the Citrix Synergy conference in May as part of a larger strategy to merge the virtualization company's many products and divisions into a more unified and streamlined portfolio.

The product essentially unifies elements from Citrix Receiver, ShareFile and XenMobile, Henshall told CRN, and is "applicable to every enterprise, every employee," Henshall told CRN.

Workspace offers a gateway to Citrix' traditional on-premise solutions like XenApp and XenDesktop; Citrix Cloud, an umbrella platform for about 15 Citrix services and public cloud integrations; and SaaS from vendors like Salesforce and Workday.

For those third-party solutions, Workspace delivers single sign-on capability and a hardened web-browser, purpose-built from the Chromium open source browser, that imposes the same security controls as for Citrix-virtualized apps and desktops.

Sapho will move its employees to Citrix' West Coast headquarters in Santa Clara, California, and El Naggar and co-founder and CTO Peter Yared will both join the company.

Citrix will also expand its European presence by maintaining Sapho's research and development office in Prague, El Naggar told CRN USA.

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