Thursday, December 20, 2007

NetSuite Goes Public

According to Red Herring, shares of Larry Ellison's NetSuite (ticker symbol "N") edged higher today in its New York Stock Exchange debut after a $161.2 million auction drove the IPO share price to $26, double the $13 initially set by underwriters as the bottom rung of the expected price range.

NetSuite, which makes on-demand order management software for small and medium-sized businesses, has yet to post a profit, recording a net loss of $35.7 million in 2006 and $20.6 million for the nine months ended September 30. Revenue, however, increased from $47 million in the nine months ended September 30, 2006, to $76.8 million for the corresponding period in 2007.

But Mike Fitzgerald, a venture capitalist whose firm has invested in similar software-as-a-service companies, said profits eventually fall to the bottom line.

"NetSuite is a $100 million company growing at 60 to 70 percent per year," he said. "A lot of SaaS companies are in this mode: Relative to the money they bring in each quarter, they have to spend a lot on sales and marketing. That revenue stream has to build up.... Eventually that marketing expense is dwarfed by the size of the customer base."

NetSuite plans to use $8.0 million of the IPO's proceeds to retire an outstanding loan of $8.0 million from Tako Ventures, an investment trust controlled by Ellison, according to regulatory filings. The company also says it will use the proceeds for capital expenditures of between $10 million and $15 million and for working capital and other general purposes.

Credit Suisse and W.R. Hambrecht managed the IPO using a modified Dutch auction format to find the top price at which all the offered shares will be sold. The Dutch auction format, which is rarely used, gained attention when it was adopted for Google's IPO in 2004.

The format arguably delivers good value to selling shareholders such as Mr. Ellison while leaving little room for the share price to climb once public trading begins.

FTC Approves Google-DoubleClick Deal

U.S. antitrust regulators approved Google Inc.'s $3.1-billion purchase of DoubleClick Inc., eliminating a major hurdle for the proposed combination in the burgeoning online advertising sector.

"After carefully reviewing the evidence, we have concluded that Google's proposed acquisition of DoubleClick is unlikely to substantially lessen competition," the Federal Trade Commission said Thursday in a statement.

Despite the FTC's green light, the transaction still faces antitrust scrutiny in Europe, and Google has said that it won't close the deal before it has clearance from European regulators. The European Commission has set a deadline of April 2 to complete its review.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Corporate Express Simplifies Reporting

Corporate Express is the world's largest business-to-business supplier of everything from office and computer supplies to promotional products and imaging supplies. With $7.3 billion in worldwide sales in 2005, the company can deliver products to companies in the Americas, Europe, and Asia.

In preparing a business review to each of its 15,000 customers, the Corporate Express sales organization would spend up to six hours pulling together data and creating a PowerPoint presentation. Making the process more difficult, the company used 28 versions of a PowerPoint sales template rather than a centralized one.

Then the company decided to use an add-in to Microsoft's Office applications that incorporated MicroStrategy reports into its PowerPoint template. This action enabled users to answer two simple prompts to build a custom report with up-to-the-minute data for any customer, cutting the preparation time from six hours to just one.

Read the complete case study at this link.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Changing the Way You Look at Customer Data

Most analytic tools used by marketers take snapshots in time, giving you static pictures of customer behavior. Accordingly, it is difficult to use such crude tools to discover trends in the underlying data. Since customer behavior is always in a state of flux, traditional analytical tools are intrinsically limited in determining strategies to maximize your marketing ROI.

Lloyd Merriam, founder and CEO of CoLinear Systems, Inc. whose RESPONSE software has been an innovative order management system since 1986, has formed a new company, Deltalytics, to address the challenge of hitting marketing’s moving target.

Clever name, as the Greek symbol Delta means “change.” What Deltalytics does is look at changes in current customer behavior to predict future behavior across all customer segments. And it does this at a cost that small businesses can afford.

Many of the analytical techniques used are proprietary (and patent-pending), but Deltalytics also relies on such established tools as Markov Chain Models, and Cluster, Bayesian, Chaid and Regression analyses. What you get, in a nutshell, are current and projected customer lifetime value, behavioral segmentation analysis, customer defection prediction and intervention, sales forecasting, and customer-centric accounting.

A laser-guided “Smart Bomb”
Think of it as a laser-guided “smart bomb” for pro-active marketers, only this bomb doesn’t blow things up, it “pumps” them up, instead. Customers in decline can be identified and potentially salvaged. Similarly, customers who are ramping up the RFM scale can be readily pinpointed and encouraged to make further purchases.

Says Merriam, “Once you've mapped out the lifecycle of, say, seasonal shoppers who responded to the Christmas catalog, for example, you can predict how similar customers should perform in the future. When they don't, we look to other metrics to get a better handle on why and what the implications will be. For example, are they spending less/more? Ordering less/more often? And so on.

“Of course, the predictions (given a relatively stable business) will become increasingly accurate and confident over time. So what you might see, for example, is that lowering the price on a top-selling item may increase short-term revenue (and even profit), but the long-term effect – which Deltalytics will reveal pretty quickly ( in 30-90 days in most cases) – might be a serious decline in the quality of this new group of customers and a dramatic drop in their aggregate potential future lifetime value. We know from basic RFM, given an adequate population to work with, that group behavior is surprisingly predictable.”

Three Critical Metrics

Deltalytics hones in on three critical metrics:

1) Multi-buyer conversions: how many one-time buyers (who typically cost more to acquire than they yield in net margin) become multi-buyers?

2) Latency: the number of days between a customer’s orders (a variation on “frequency”)

3) Recency: the date of the customer’s last order, and the most powerful predictor of future behavior

Starting with Recency scores for the current customer population, Deltalytics measures the changes in Recency from period to period to tell you whether the percentage of recent customers is on the rise or declining, and at what rate. By excluding one-time buyers from the analysis, you are able to see how profitable customers (i.e. multi-buyers) are performing without skewing results from purchases made by new customer acquisitions.

Guiding you to motivate the laggards and boost the risers, Deltalytics helps you to:

• increase average customer lifetime duration
• predict the long-term financial impact of strategic initiatives much sooner
• determine which promotions yield the most profitable customers (in terms of their lifetime downstream value)
• identify which products attract the most profitable customers over the long-term
• assess how changes in company policies (pricing, product mix, etc.) will impact future sales and profit
• anticipate when imminent customer defection is likely (so you can prevent losing them)

Incredibly Affordable
The cost for this service is incredibly affordable. While still in its “beta” or testing phase, the cost for the "basic" Deltalytics service is currently $39.95 per month, but is likely to drop to $29.95 later on (note to Steve Jobs – this is called customer-friendly disclosure!). At this point, five different “editions” are planned, each with increasingly sophisticated features and reporting. They are:

ESSENTIAL - $19.95/mo, with fewer features than Basic, but still offering useful results
BASIC - $29.95/mo
STANDARD - $49.95/mo
PROFESSIONAL - $99.95/mo
ELITE - $179.95/mo
The Elite level will provide Multi-buyer Pattern Detection and Analysis, Latent Segment (cluster) Analysis, Forecasts of Future Business Value, Reports on Confidence Levels, and Self-Tuning Algorithms.

But even at the Basic level you are still getting a boatload of trend reports based on all RFM measures, plus Latency, Conversions, Customer Profitability analysis, and Business Strength (rate of growth or decline).

Analysis is based on data feeds using a generic field mapping tool for importing the requisite data from virtually any system, and system-specific “adapters” are planned to easily interface with any of the leading accounting and order management systems.

Deltalytics is designed to run in-house on MS SQL/Server, to assure optimum performance and stability (Deltalytics will supply the free "express" edition, if you wish). That means that all application data is stored and processed locally by the user. The application relies on an internet connection only to maintain the monthly subscription and to provide diagnostic and trouble-shooting support.

For more information, contact Lloyd Merriam at, or visit

FTC Chair Denies Conflict In Google's Bid For DoubleClick

Information Week reports that the head of the Federal Trade Commission, Deborah Platt Majoras, will not recuse herself from reviewing Google's DoubleClick acquisition bid.

Chairwoman Majoras issued a statement last Friday in response to petitions alleging that she should remove herself from reviewing Google's proposed acquisition of Hellman & Friedman Capital Partners (DoubleClick). She said that the law and rules do not require her to bow out of the proceedings. She also said the petition for her removal from proceedings contained several factual errors.

Earlier in the week the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy filed a petition for Platt Majoras' recusal. It stated that she should not review the acquisition because her husband, John M. Majoras, is an equity partner with the law firm Jones Day, which has done work for DoubleClick.

Platt Majoras denied having any conflict in the matter.

She said another law firm represents DoubleClick in the FTC proceedings and that no one on the FTC realized that Jones Day represented DoubleClick before a European commission until earlier this week.

She also said her husband changed his status to non-equity, fixed participation partner in January 2006 and that her husband is not affected by the firm's income.

"Thus, I do not have an imputed financial interest," she said.

"In 2004 and 2005, when my husband was still an equity partner, I assumed that I would have a financial interest in FTC matters in which Jones Day represented a party and recused myself in such matters, as petitioners note," she explained. "After my husband relinquished his equity interest in the firm's income, I began to consider participating in FTC matters in which Jones Day represented a party, in consultation with the FTC's Ethics Official."

Platt Majoras said she has continued to consult with FTC lawyers and other staff members to decide whether to participate in reviews that involve DoubleClick.

She pointed out that U.S. Code 18, section 208, prohibits officials from participating personally and substantially in matters they know will affect their finances in a "direct" and "predictable" way.

A code of ethical conduct for executive branch employees also warns against participation in matters likely to affect the finances of a member of her household, or when she knows that a person with whom she has a covered relationship is or represents a party, if she determines that a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts would question her impartiality in the matter.

Platt Majoras said that when she heard Jones Day might represent DoubleClick in the E.U. review, she sought guidance from FTC's Designated Agency Ethics Official on whether that would affect her impartiality, or appearance of it. She said the official ruled out a conflict over impartiality and added that even if it threatened the appearance of impartiality, Platt Majoras' contribution in reviewing the acquisition outweighs likely concerns about the agency's integrity.

"Because my participation in this matter is consistent with federal ethics laws and regulations, I intend to fulfill the duties entrusted to me when I was appointed and confirmed," she said.

Commissioner William E. Kovacic also filed a statement disclosing that his wife, Kathryn Fenton, had also become a non-equity and fixed participation partner at Jones Day.

"Even though the petition does not ask for my recusal, I want my position to be clear to avoid any future questions relating to this issue," he said. "Because, like the Chairman, I do not have any current conflicts in this matter, I have determined not to recuse myself."

Commissioners Pamela Jones Harbour, Jon Leibowitz, and J. Thomas Rosch also submitted a statement supporting their colleagues' participation. They said they "see no legal grounds" for disqualifying Platt Majoras or Kovacic from investigating the transaction.

"It is evident that these Commissioners have at all times taken affirmative steps to conduct themselves in complete conformity with the ethical standards that apply to their positions," they said.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

iDashboards to Offer BI for Oracle E-Business Suite

iDashboards, a vendor of business intelligence (BI) dashboard software, said it will offer a new application for Oracle Corp.'s E-Business Suite, in response to requests from E-Business users.

The tool combines a pre-configured data mart with pre-built and customizable dashboards, reports and alerts. The dashboards present a view of key performance indicators (KPIs) and other metrics. iDashboards also offers a collection of reports covering multi-dimensional views and drill-down capability.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Business Objects Partners with SPSS

Intelligent Enterprise reports that: Business Objects may be the largest business intelligence vendor, but in striking an original equipment manufacturer agreement today with SPSS, it acknowledged that it needed to fill a crucial gap in the area of predictive analytics.

Under the terms of the OEM arrangement, the BusinessObjects XI platform will gain two predictive analytics data mining offerings. The BusinessObjects Predictive Workbench will be a co-branded, "Powered by SPSS" version of SPSS Clementine integrated with the BusinessObjects Universe semantic layer to enable data mining experts to develop predictive models.

"The Universe becomes a data source, and you will then run your modeling within the Workbench and ultimately send the results back to the Universe for further analysis," says James Thomas, Business Object's vice president of BI Content and tools.

In a second phase of integration, BusinessObjects Predictive Services will be integrated with the BI vendor's Web Intelligence query and analysis tool to expose predictive capabilities to ordinary business users through reports and documents.

"Predictive Services will give business users a simpler and more compelling way to understand where their business is headed in areas such as sales and customer churn, and what interesting trends may lie underneath their business intelligence content," says Thomas.

If, for example, a Web Intelligence report details customer sales by region, running the detailed data through predictive algorithms would return deeper insights into best customers, customers likely to churn and those likely to respond to cross-sell and up-sell campaigns.

In the wake of October's announcement that SAP would acquire Business Objects, rival SAS openly derided Business Objects as having "shallow" capabilities in the area of analytics, a point that Thomas now concedes: "We've been working with the 'predictive' concept for a number of years, but we had just a few algorithms buried in our product line and we just didn't offer the scope of predictive functionality that our customers were asking for."

For SPSS, the Business Objects deal bolsters its strategy to extend its predictive capabilities through partnerships. "We don't own the data, nor do we own the delivery mechanisms to get the data and the predictive analytics out to the end users, so Business Objects is a perfect partner for us to do that with," says Patrick McCue, vice president of global alliances. "We've had joint-marketing success with companies like Oracle, Microstrategy and SAP, but as we started planning for 2008, we put a big focus on the channel and on deeper OEM relationships."

SPSS already has OEM relationships with Hewlett-Packard and J.D. Edwards, and McCue says most SPSS OEM targets would consider SAS to be a competitor. "That gives us a competitive advantage against SAS to be able to go out into a customer base with that partner leading the way," he adds. "Once we sell the data mining/predictive piece, we have a plethora of other products that our sales team can sell, such as text mining, real-time decision making and statistics."

Thomas says the Clementine-based Predictive Workbench will be added within the first half of 2008. Predictive Services may take longer to integrate because it will change the Web Intelligence user interface.
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