Update: RightPoint-E.piphany Merger Rains On Personalization Summit's Parade

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Gayle Crowell, CEO of e-commerce software firm RightPoint Corp., suspected she had upset much of the audience at the first Personalization Summit as she began delivering a keynote address there last week.


Just before she spoke, privately held RightPoint agreed to be acquired by another e-commerce software firm, E.piphany Inc., San Mateo, CA, in a stock deal valued at about $400 million. The planned merger combines RightPoint technology, which helps businesses personalize their consumer interaction in real time, with E.piphany software that sorts and analyzes customer data.


The pact ratchets up competition among the several software companies trying to meet burgeoning demand from e-commerce sites that want to target visitors with offers based on their interests and behavior. Most of those software companies attended the summit.


"There were some very, very long faces" in the audience, Crowell said. "It almost made me feel a little sad. You want the market to do really well, but I think they realized ... what they would now have to do to be a player in the game."


Analysts and industry watchers approved of the deal, and so did the stock market, which was roaring into its final hour of trading as Crowell delivered her keynote address. Shares of E.piphany skyrocketed 45 1/4, or 40 percent, to close at 157 3/4.


RightPoint, also of San Mateo, makes software that quickly gathers data a business has on a particular customer and then, for example, feeds it to a telesales operator for a personalized pitch to the consumer. E.piphany's strength is on the back end - bringing together consumer data from existing software systems and outside sources for analysis and reporting. Executives from the two companies said their combination puts them far ahead of piecemeal solutions from their competitors.


"Simply put, we've taken what we believe to be an 18- to 24-month technology lead in the marketplace and extended it even further," said E.piphany president/CEO Roger Siboni.


Crowell sounded off in a similar way about the agreement. "At the end of the day, what this does is put us generations ahead of everybody else," she said. She predicted further mergers between e-commerce software firms as a result of the E.piphany-RightPoint deal. None of several software companies contacted for comment by DM News returned calls by press time.


The agreement came just as RightPoint was about to file for an IPO. Though Crowell said she had expected a successful public offering, she decided on a merger instead just as the company was about to select underwriters. News of the acquisition broke as she headed to the Personalization Summit to speak to a room full of competitors.


"It was something I'm sure they wished wasn't happening," she said.


In the fiscal year ended July, RightPoint revenue increased 450 percent over the previous year, Crowell said. The merger partners' combined client roster includes CBS SportsLine, American Express, Charles Schwab, GTE, Procter & Gamble, Hewlett-Packard and iVillage Inc.

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