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The Secret Inside HP’s Quiet Little Billion-Dollar Exstream Acquisition

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The Secret Inside HP’s Quiet Little Billion-Dollar Exstream Acquisition

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HP is buying Exstream Software LLC, a privately held, 300-man, enterprise ISV whose widgetry creates personalized documents from diverse data sources, both structured and unstructured, for mass mailings online or in print.

Now, HP didn’t say how much it’s paying private equity house American Capital Strategies for Exstream but the property reportedly brings in about $100 million in revenue and counts 400 major companies, including all of Wall Street, as customers.

The Wall Street Journal figures HP must have paid around a billion dollars. We should find out exactly how much from American Capital when it files its quarterly results in the next couple of weeks but it bought 60% of the company last year for $548 million, putting a valuation of roughly $913 million on it.

When one of our own spends a billion dollars we ought to sit up.

From the outside the pending acquisition just looks like a mere fillip for Hewlett-Packard’s digital printing business, but Exstream’s document automation technology is supposed to infiltrate all corners of HP and put the company on the road to the Semantic Web, HP CTO Sam Greenblatt said.

See, Exstream could have averted the subprime crisis – if the banks hadn’t completely lost their moral compass – because it can create a loan application that can dynamically – and all by itself – track the borrower’s minute-by-minute credit rating.

So maybe that guy, who’s already divorced and paying child support, who bought a house in Massachusetts that he couldn’t afford, then defaulted on it and declared bankruptcy, wouldn’t have been able to turn around and buy another house in Florida (a true story, by the way).

Now imagine a job application for a teaching position that automatically searches the databases for any evidence the guy is a child molester. Parents everywhere would rest a little easier in their beds at night.

Heck, Exstream might have saved Société Générale that massive $7 billion fraud, Sam says.

This is the kind of stuff IBM, EMC, Google and even the poverty-stricken Xerox want to be able to do but HP figures it’s gotten a jump on the so-called Semantic document.

The Kentucky-based Exstream will become part of HP’s Web Services and software business in its Imaging and Printing Group.

Currently banks – other than those making use of its credit rating skills – use it for printing statements, utilities for printing bills and government for printing whatever it is government prints.

It brags that it makes communications as much as 85% faster, reduces the cost of document production as much as 80% and possibly triples customer response, but that ain’t the half of it.

The deal is supposed to close sometime between February and the end of April.

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