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Endeca data firm is sold to a tech giant

Deal is at least 6th in Boston area for Oracle

Oracle Corp. is once again buying in Cambridge with its purchase of Endeca Technologies Inc., a fast-growing software company that helps businesses like Walmart and Ford Motor Co. capture and analyze data on what is being said about them across the Web.

The deal is the latest in a long line of acquisitions by the Silicon Valley computer giant and at least its sixth in the Boston area since 2009. Last year, Oracle bought Art Technology Group, a Cambridge company that designed software for online retailers, for $1 billion.

The terms for the purchase of Endeca, which is privately held, were not disclosed.


Paula Rosenblum of Retail Systems Research in Miami said that Endeca’s ability to analyze so-called unstructured data - social media comments, e-mails, and even tweets - for its 600 clients is what attracted Oracle. Companies are increasingly hungry for this data because it provides a snapshot of what consumers are saying about their brands.

“That’s a big deal in this age of social media,’’ she said.

Bringing Endeca’s advanced search abilities in-house to Oracle “is a great move,’’ added Boris Evelson, a Forrester Research analyst. “None of its large competitors have anything like this.’’

Neither Endeca nor Oracle would comment beyond the press release announcing the deal.

“The combination of Oracle and Endeca is extremely compelling in this changing environment,’’ said Thomas Kurian, executive vice president at Oracle Development, in the release.

While the price tag for Endeca has not been disclosed, Evelson suggested that sale could be in the $1 billion range, based on what Hewlett-Packard Co. paid for Autonomy, a European software company that is also in the unstructured data business. That deal, for $12 billion, closed this month.

Endeca was founded in 1999 by Steve Papa and Peter Bell with a goal of improving Internet search. It has grown to more than 400 employees and has operations in Europe and Asia. The company is backed by at least $75 million in venture capital and has had annual revenues in the $100 million range.


For its retail clients, Endeca provides much of the back-end technology that can power online search requests. For instance, it worked with, which famously crashed after it offered the Missoni fashion line, to help with the site’s navigation features.

It has also moved into the area of business intelligence, meaning Endeca helps companies analyze all sorts of data sets.

This year, Papa, Endeca’s chief executive, suggested in an interview with the Boston Business Journal that the company may be considering an initial public offering. The Globe has reported that Endeca had considered other offers to be acquired.

“Most folks are shopping for something they can get cheap,’’ Papa told the Globe last year. “We’re interested in building something of significance.’’

The Cambridge firm took search beyond simple Web and database research to allowing customers to quickly analyze complex data across the Web and within their own more organized data sets, said Susan Feldman, an analyst at IDC Data Corp. in Framingham.

“If you look at the past two years, what you see is a gradual evolution of the search market and a realization that this kind of access to structured and unstructured information is critical,’’ she said. “If you want business right now, you have to have access to today’s information.’’


Oracle’s stock rose 2 percent yesterday to close at $31.88.

Michael B. Farrell can be reached at