OpenText acquires forensic security vendor Guidance Software for $240 million

OpenText, the content management company based in Waterloo, Ontario announced today that it was buying Guidance Software, a forensic security and eDiscovery vendor for $240 million.

OpenText agreed to pay Guidance shareholders $7.10 a share. The price will be less Guidance’s cash on hand of approximately $18 million, making the final price just around $222 million, according to OpenText. Under the terms of the purchase, the company will become a wholly owned subsidiary of OpenText.

OpenText has never been afraid to open its wallet to fill in a hole (or even buy something with overlapping functionality). As a case in point, just about a year ago, it bought Documentum, a competing enterprise content management firm, from EMC for $1.62 billion.

This acquisition gives the company some overlapping functionality too, but Cheryl McKinnon, an analyst with Forrester Research who monitors the content management industry, says it also gives the company forensics tools, which are new to them.

“It certainly adds, with some overlap, to their eDiscovery and file analytics portfolio (i.e. , those tools to clean up network drives, detect sensitive text inside documents, etc.). But OpenText has never had anything focused more on the forensic side of the discovery business. — that is, more security, deeper inspection of how information [has been] accessed, copied, etc. So that forensics side is net new for them,” McKinnon explained.

Not surprisingly, the company is focusing on that forensic piece in its announcement, but it’s also getting a rich set of eDiscovery tools, and a customer list that includes 78 of the Fortune 100 companies, according to the Guidance website.

Tony Byrne, founder and principal analyst at the Real Story Group, a firm that watches the content management industry, says the deal is really about giving them access to that customer base.

“The important thing to know about OpenText is that they generally don’t buy technology. They buy mature customer bases and milk the maintenance revenue. This is no different. It’s been an effective financial strategy for them, but for customers a mixed bag,” he told TechCrunch.

Alan Pelz-Sharpe, founder at the analyst firm, Deep Analysis, predicts OpenText could be just getting started when it comes to acquisitions. “I  doubt it will be the last such acquisition by OpenText this year, indeed I expect to see more similar sized deals before year end,” he said.

As for the price tag, he said it’s about twice revenue, which is what you would expect on a deal like this one.

Regardless, the purchase should close in the third quarter of this year.