A week ago Intalio has already acquired two companies and is in talks with "five or six others," according to Intalio CEO Ismael Ghalimi, with whom I had the opportunity to talk last Friday., having been part of a company (Lineo) that tried and failed to significantly scale through acquisition.
After talking with Ghalimi, I'm a bit more optimistic on Intalio's chances with this strategy, for a few reasons.
First, while growing through acquisition is both art and science, it helps if a company is already used to working in a distributed fashion. Given that Intalio plans to acquire a host of (small) companies across the globe, it's helpful that it currently employs 60 employees across 10 offices. Intalio, in other words, already knows how to connect remotely.
In fact, as Ghalimi told me, he views a global geographic spread essential to an open-source business:
We know how to deal with geographic disparity. In open source, you don't get to choose your markets: you need to be where your customers are. The more distributed the better.
But what about the companies it acquires? It's by no means certain that they, too, will fit into this model.
Ghalimi's response is to point to the nature of the companies that it is acquiring: very small organizations that will remain very small organizations. In other words, Ghalimi isn't concerned with digesting acquisitions, Cisco style: he wants to keep Intalio's acquisitions somewhat autonomous:
There shouldn't be anything on our price list that requires more than seven engineers. Beyond that "magic" number you need middle management, which would break our agile development model. So, we expect the individual teams to remain somewhat autonomous.
Will it work? Time will tell. But the strategy is more likely to succeed given the pragmatism with which it's being plotted out.
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