Who’s Buying Borland?

If I had a dollar for every rumor that has been circulated about Borland getting bought out by , I could buy the company myself.

The latest rumor has Microsoft buying Borland. In the past I’ve heard that Novell, BEA, IBM, Corel (oh, wait, that rumor was true!), Oracle, CA, SAP, HP, and McDonalds. Okay, I made that last one up. But nevertheless, every one of those rumors has been just that – a rumor. As far as I know, there hasn’t been a serious attempt to buy Borland since the Corel fiasco. Borland’s stock price has gone up and down on these rumors over the years, but no one aside from Corel has ever made a serious bid.

I’m no Mergers & Acquisitions expert, but it seems to me that if someone were going to buy Borland, they would have done so already. Borland is only getting stronger. I’d guess that all that money in the bank makes them tough to buy if they don’t want to be bought. Because Borland has one foot planted firmly in both the Java and .Net spaces, it makes only half the company attractive to most companies out there. MS wouldn’t have a clue what to do with JBuilder, and BEA would look at Delphi like we all would look at a man from Mars. Borland has a lot of valuable parts, but the some of those parts doesn’t really appeal to any one entity. In the end, it seems unlikely that anyone could or would really buy Borland. But it sure makes for interesting speculation on the Yahoo BORL board.

But lets imagine that someone did buy Borland. Such a company would have an interesting conundrum: what to do with the widely disparate development tool sets that Borland owns? Should a Java-ish company try to jump into the .Net world with Delphi? Should a .Net-minded company try to do the same into the Java world?

The only concern I personally would have would be for the future of Delphi. A company buying Borland may or may not see the value in Delphi; thus the specter of Borland being bought is a bit scary to us Delphi fans. Delphi going away would be a Very Bad Thing™ for the developer community on the .Net side of things. Delphi’s demise would leave .Net developers at the mercy of one company – the dreaded Microsoft. And of course, we can’t have that, now, can we?

Borland is a much stronger company than the average IT “expert” seems to realize, and they do have more bases covered in the software development market than any other company, even Microsoft. Sometimes we developers forget that Borland is made up of tools that cover many areas beyond development tools. They have StarTeam, CaliberRM, Together, Visibroker, and OptimizeIt. Borland has been doing more than merely preaching the ALM message, they’ve been acting on it, putting themselves years ahead of the competition in many areas. And in doing so, they’ve made themselves large enough and diverse enough that they would be a hard pill to swallow.

In the end, I’m inclined to believe that rumors of Borland’s acquisition have been greatly exaggerated.

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