Apparently Citrix is for sale again, and one of the potential buyers also owns Jamf and Ping

We’ve been down this road before.

Yesterday the New York Post reported that Citrix is considering selling itself, and has brought in Goldman Sachs to explore options. The sources weren’t named, and Citrix didn’t comment on the story, but for those of us that have been following Citrix for years, this news isn’t out of the ordinary. In fact, this is very similar to what happened two years ago, when Citrix also reportedly brought in Goldman Sachs. While that rumor didn't result in a sale, it was followed by some significant aftereffects. So, it's worth a quick look at what's going on this time around, even if the story hasn't been corroborated yet.

Update #1, 9:30am PT, April 4: Or they might not be for sale, according to some sources. As usual, we have to take all of this with a grain of salt, and note that this isn't an official statement. Also, I'll reiterate what I said before: The last time this happened, there were significant changes down the line, so it's worth it to be aware of what's going on.

Update #2, April 11: Responding to a tweet about this article, the Twitter-verified Citrix account tweeted "Nope. :)" 

This is just the latest round

We know all the history, but in case you want a refresher, it was in 2015 that Elliott came in, there were lots of changes (both needed and unfortunate), and Dell was rumored to be interested in buying Citrix. After another round of sales rumors in 2017, former CFO David Henshall took over as CEO from Kirill Tatarinov, and Citrix had a large round of layoffs. Since then, we’ve heard about additional smaller rounds of layoffs.

Where are we in 2019? For one, as the New York Post story points out, Elliott has made a decent amount of money by now. Citrix is looking to sell itself for more than $15 billion.

On the technology side, as we know, Citrix now has a large number of competitors that are pitching desktop virtualization and DaaS products that are cheaper and simpler than Citrix, including the as-yet unproven Windows Virtual Desktop, which Citrix will be reselling.

Citrix’s strategy is to also go after non-desktop virtualization use cases, especially security. Unfortunately, for as much competition as Citrix now faces in desktop virtualization, they face even more in these other product areas. Between this and their plans to resell WVD and Microsoft 365, I think Citrix could look more like a systems integrator in the future.

Citrix wants to get more strategic with customers, and last December CMO Tim Minahan told me that part of their plan to achieve this involves upleveling sales conversations and aligning Citrix products with C-level and board-level issues like workforce management and the talent war.

On top of all of this, Citrix is dealing with the security breach we learned about last month. This could happen to anyone, but no matter what, this is making things harder for them.

Vista Equity Partners

Besides the changing competitive landscape, what makes the current round of sale rumors different? The New York Post story names Vista Equity Partners as a potential buyer. Vista also happens to own Jamf Software, Ping Identity, and other security vendors.

Jamf and Ping have continued to operate independently since their respective acquisitions, but nevertheless, you can see how a virtual desktop provider could fit in with this portfolio, and being under the same umbrella certainly couldn’t hurt.

What’s next?

This is Citrix as we’ve known it for almost four years. There are bright spots. Personally, I really like that they’re going after identity and workspace management. Overall, there are plenty of interesting new features coming out on a regular basis. And total revenue and subscription revenue are still growing. But the turmoil is hard to ignore.

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Total revenue is still growing? It's anemic compared to software industry standard growth numbers.
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@Jack I am a long time Citrix admin and am tired of watching this slow motion crash. My management feels Citrix are in a state of desperation and not stable.  As the enterprise architect I am constantly told by management that they don’t see Citrix as a viable strategic vendor anymore, so we should look for alternatives as we can’t count on them for the future. To add to what you wrote above, they are squeezing us by trying to force us to convert to expensive subscription agreements that we don’t want. So that is leaving a really bad taste with management. The security breach made things even worse and there are no clear conclusions. We see they are still allegedly secretly firing people https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/03/29/citrix_layoff_claims_revenues/. We also noticed that they have multiple law suits against former employees and competitors. So as you said, ‘turmoil is hard to ignore’ we see that as vendor stability risk.

 

Citrix+JamF+Ping is an interesting idea and something they can’t build on their own. Citrix will never be successful at UEM as Microsoft want to own that with InTune. So adding JamF for Mac to add to InTune may give them some hope, as AirWatch has much better Mac support (we are an Airwatch customer). Ping vs. Azure AD would be a conflict with Microsoft. Ping is weak vs. Okta. In Identity I see it as a race between Microsoft and Okta. I think others like Google and Amazon are the only other ones that stand a chance if they wanted to offer more in the EUC space. I also don’t see much value in MS 365 as we don’t want a lot of the things in it, because we have already settled on other standards.  WVD + Citrix is smoke and mirrors as Claudio pointed out http://blog.wtslabs.com/?p=116  and as you said, ‘Unproven’. So we are not going to touch WVD or Citrix on Azure as we don’t believe they have a viable solution for our distributed needs. Folks always joke it’s the year of VDI, perhaps we should rename 2019 to the year we all realize that WVD is not viable for VDI in the cloud. Because we don’t believe in WVD, we will continue to use Citrix on-premises for now and then look for a replacement in the cloud with Amazon Workspaces as we already do a lot of work with AWS in our development teams. Even if Amazon Workspaces does not meet all of our needs, I think they could replace 40% of our use cases for Citrix. So it seems a stretch to me, that anybody would spend more than $15B to own such a mess. Maybe with some financial engineering by splitting up the company, somebody will make a lot of money. I assume that is why the company is now run by an accountant. We want no part of that uncertain future.

 

The sales desperation plus all the other turmoil does not give us confidence that Citrix has the ability to execute or invest in future plans. Because Citrix has eroded trust with their current offerings and dealings with us, we don’t see a viable path forward with them. So we are now developing other options that we will plan to deploy in 2020. Sad to see the slow motion crash happening over the years, they were once a good solution and no amount of Kool-Aid at Synergy is going to convince our management.

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