Sage buys business intelligence firm

Good news for New Media Spark - remember them?

Sage has bought IntelligentApps Holdings Ltd for an undisclosed sum.

IntelligentApps makes business intelligence software. The two firms have been working together for a year selling a Sage-branded version of their product called Sage BI to mid-market customers.

Gavin May, business development director at Sage, said: "The acquisition of IntelligentApps is a further step in Sage's strategy to provide our customers with key technologies and specialised software that integrates to their existing Sage accounting and CRM software."

IntelligentApps, he said, had developed a state of the art set of products that can extract data from accounting, CRM or other systems to provide a powerful management dashboard for business users and a product set that will at last truly deliver on the promise of "business intelligence to the masses".

IntelligentApps is part-owned by investment group NewMedia SPARK which was a poster child for dotcom exuberance. The firm made a swathe of high profile investments between 1999 and 2000 when prices were at their highest point. In early 2000 it invested more than £800,000 in Swedish start-up funplanet.com to pay for a UK launch. It also paid £1m for a minority stake in B2B site travelstore.com. As sentiment drained away from the dot-com sector NMS was left with an expensive portfolio of investments in dubious dotcoms.

But among the dross was also some pearls, Now the VC firm is starting to cash in. Its first major exit of an early stage firm was the sale of Pricerunner, the comparison shoppping site, to ValueClick in August for $36m.

Charles Berry, director at New Media SPARK, told The Register: "We've had a number of exits, Pricerunner was the most high profile. There has definitely been a change in the market, there are more opportunities for new investment and for combining our existing investments." He also noted it was about different kinds of deals - IntelligentApps worked with Sage for a year before they were convinced enough to buy them.

Berry said this was partly the natural VC cycle - investments take five years or so to mature - and partly the realities of the market. He believes the sale of Pricerunner demonstrates the increased US appetite for investment in European technology firms.

Following the Pricerunner sale NMS rejigged the board, moving Andrew Carruthers from MD to CEO. It also saw the departure of non-executive directors John Maples and Tony Sarin. Speaking at the time Tom Teichman, chairman of NMS, thanked them for their help "during an extended period of turbulence in the technology sector." ®

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