Thursday, September 17, 2009

UPDATE: Component Maker GrapeCity Acquires FarPoint

By Michael Desmond09/17/2009

Component maker GrapeCity today announced that it is acquiring spreadsheet component vendor FarPoint Technologies. Details about the deal, expected to be completed by October 1st, were not disclosed. FarPoint's Spread family of products includes Spread for .NET Bundle, Spread for Windows Forms and Spread for ASP.NET, among other products.

FarPoint CEO Rick Williamson said the purchase will enable FarPoint to extend its product development efforts and reach a considerably larger audience than it has in the past. He said FarPoint, based in Morrisville, NC, will gain access to a large pool of offshore developers, as well as to a dedicated QA team.

"It became clear that we did not have the resources to go where we wanted to. With GrapeCity's help we felt we would be able to do that," Williamson said. "Our customers should be a lot happier because now we have a lot more resources behind us. This is a win-win for the customers."

GrapeCity, based in Sendai, Japan, and with U.S. offices in Seattle, Wash., employed 850 people before the FarPoint acquisition. The company has had a business relationship with FarPoint for over a decade, distributing and supporting FarPoint's spreadsheet components in Japan.

"We've always been impressed with the high quality of FarPoint products—in fact, their Spread product is one of the top components used by Microsoft Visual Studio developers in Japan," said Naoyuki Baba, GrapeCity President, in a statement."With our 25-plus years of experience in bringing world-class software solutions to a global client base, we're in a great position to further extend FarPoint's market reach. And their outstanding developer components will help us expand our developer tools offerings across a broader range of vertical markets."

The acquisition of FarPoint is the second significant purchase by GrapeCity in a year. In October 2008, GrapeCity acquired data analysis and reporting component maker Data Dynamics. Like FarPoint, DataDynamics was a long-time business partner of GrapeCity, which distributed DataDynamics products in Japan. In both cases, GrapeCity has said it expects to expand the market reach of the acquired companies.

"Yes, we recognize the obvious synergy in terms of both product lines being very complimentary," said Sanjeev Jagtap, director of product management at GrapeCity. "Reporting/BI and spreadsheets together pretty much make up bulk of the heavy lifting that today's business users need to do in terms of rapid data processing and business reporting/intelligence. So it is an easy fit between the two product lines."

Julian Bucknall, chief technology officer of component maker Developer Express, said the GrapeCity acquisition doesn’t portend a consolidation in the .NET component marketplace.

"It's more of a strategic decision by GrapeCity to take over a product they were already marketing in Japan and, as I understand, had a hand in developing," Bucknall said. "At a stretch you could make the argument that these two acquisitions, DataDynamics and FarPoint, were about carving a niche in the business intelligence component market."

FarPoint's Williamson said he expects the GrapeCity acquisition to energize initiatives in the FarPoint product family. In addition to providing resources for FarPoint to support Microsoft's expanding platform reach -- including emerging WPF, Silverlight and mobile platforms -- FarPoint is working to debut a common code base for its components. The first example of this effort, said Williamson, is present in the charting component in Spread for Windows Forms Version 5, currently in beta.

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