Friday, September 29, 2006

After the honeymoon

In the technology world, it's common for a a company to buy a smaller company that's doing cool, innovative things. Maybe their products are unique; maybe they've dominated a smaller but appealing niche.

What's also sadly common is that after an acquisition, the acquiring company often wipes out what was powerful and unique about their new purchase.

I thought about that reading this Houston Chronicle TechBlog entry by Dwight Silverman about Dell and Alienware. Dell bought Alienware recently; Alienware, of course, is known for high powered PCs that appeal to a very techie crowd, often focused on gaming. Their stuff represented nerd chic. They were a little outsider outfit.

The Business Week article from the TechBlog post is already unavailable on the magazine's site, but from what I can see in the blog commentary about it, the question is whether being part of Dell has damaged Alienware's cool factor.  

It's too soon to know what will happen to them as part of Dell, but it is interesting (and not promising) to see that the Dell and Alienware web sites suddenly look strangely similar.

Although, as Silverman points out in his blog post, we might see one of the other, though less common, post-acquisition scenarios: the smaller company transforms the big one from within. Depending on the state of the two companies, that can actually be a good thing.

It's a bit like "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" but for a company called Alienware that might be an entirely appropriate analogy.

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