IBM has sold the remainder of its marketing automation software in a deal with a private equity firm Centerbridge Partners that will yield a new company focused on marketing and commerce solutions.
Centerbridge Partners will direct funds advised by its affiliates to buy IBM Marketing Platform and other IBM commerce products for an undisclosed sum.
Once the deal concludes later this year, Centerbridge will spin off a still-unnamed company focused on technologies that automate the work of marketing and advertising executives, with Mark Simpson, who currently helms the IBM division, serving as CEO.
IBM was once a leading force in offering enterprise software to facilitate the client engagement experience, fielding a broad portfolio of e-commerce and marketing automation solutions, but has now fully walked away from those businesses.
IBM's overarching strategy is to focus on high-value segments of the IT industry. That involves delivering an integrated set of products, especially around emerging technologies like AI, blockchain, cloud and supply chain.
"The marketing and commerce assets are no longer core to this integrated model," IBM Vice President for Communications Ed Barbini told CRN.
Marketing automation tools are increasingly sold as stand-alone products, Barbini noted.
IBM has also fallen behind innovators in that market, like Adobe Systems.
Once the Centerbridge deal closes later this year, IBM will have fully divested from what was once a broad portfolio of marketing and e-commerce solutions.
That process started in December 2018, when Big Blue sold IBM WebSphere Commerce, its flagship e-commerce platform, along with other automated marketing and security solutions under its tent to HCL Technologies for US$1.8 billion.
That deal with India-based HCL also included IBM Unica, cloud-based enterprise marketing automation software; IBM WebSphere Commerce, an omni-channel commerce platform for B2C and B2B organizations; and IBM WebSphere Portal, a platform for developing enterprise web portals to help businesses deliver highly personalized social experiences to clients.
The company that will emerge from the IBM-Centerbridge deal is still unnamed, but it will be headquartered in New York City and deliver solutions focused on automating the work of marketing and advertising executives.
The product portfolio will include marketing automation tools, customer experience analytics, personalized search and an AI-powered content management system. The new company will continue to invest in developing artificial intelligence capabilities and privacy-protection tools, Centerbridge said.
"We believe Centerbridge is well positioned to advance these assets in the marketplace," IBM Vice President Ed Barbini told CRN.
Mark Simpson, who currently helms the IBM division responsible for those products, has been selected as CEO.
Simpson founded Maxymiser, a developer of cloud-based marketing software that Oracle acquired in 2015.
Simpson worked a year at Oracle before joining IBM as a vice president in the Watson Commerce and Marketing group.
Other IBM executives will join Simpson in the still-unnamed new company.
The private equity firm has yet to provide more information about how it will engage IBM resellers that have built businesses around those products.
Sirius Computer Solutions, a leader in IBM's channel, has seen a decline in sales of IBM's commerce and marketing platforms over the last five years, said the solution provider's vice president of software sales, Darrin Nelson.
But Sirius "continued to enjoy strong services performance in those spaces, supporting clients that had made those IBM platform commitments," Nelson said.