Another ‘Sexy’ Enterprise Exit: EMC Buys Web Security Firm Silver Tail Systems

Some would say the Enterprise has always been sexy (see what I did there?)

The tech press doesn’t always give enterprise software startups as much attention as companies on the consumer-focused side. That is slowly changing now, though — the words “enterprise” and “sexy” have shown up together in a growing number of conference panels and press reports in recent months.

The “sexy enterprise” PR push can seem a little ridiculous, but in the end it actually makes a lot of sense. At the bottom line, as far as business goes, what could be sexier than a deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars?

The latest case in point: Yesterday, data storage giant EMC announced it would buy Silver Tail Systems, a Menlo Park, California-based software startup that specializes in web fraud detection technology. Financial terms were not officially disclosed, but according to AllThingsD’s Arik Hesseldahl, the price tag for Silver Tail Systems was between $300 million and $400 million.

Overall it is a very nice return for Silver Tail’s investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Leapfrog Ventures, and Citi Ventures, who together pitched in a total of $22.1 million in venture capital to the company.

In a phone interview today, Silver Tail’s CEO Tim Eades declined to confirm or deny the deal size reports. He did, however, stress that his company’s standalone growth has “just been on fire” over the past 20 months. “In terms of bookings, year-over-year we had been planning to grow by 4x, but we ended up on track to grow by 8x to 9x. Revenue was even greater growth, at 10x to 15x year-over-year,” he said. In terms of staff, Silver Tail now has over 100 employees across several offices. It would certainly make sense for Silver Tail’s valuation to be into the triple-digit millions.

Silver Tail Systems will be integrated into the RSA security division, which EMC acquired back in 2006 for $2.1 billion. Its product is used by financial institutions and a wide range of e-commerce companies, and Eades says that more customer and product growth is on deck for the months ahead after the deal closes. If this is the kind of growth that a strong enterprise startup can boast about, more entrepreneurs, engineers, investors, and maybe even bloggers will likely continue to take some more interest in the space.