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New CEO addresses MobileIron acquisition speculation

Barry Mainz, who took over as CEO of the enterprise mobility management vendor in January, says pursuing a MobileIron acquisition isn't his priority.

The naming of a new CEO has fueled speculation about a possible MobileIron acquisition and the overall direction of the EMM market.

MobileIron hired Barry Mainz as its new CEO in January, replacing co-founder Bob Tinker, who stepped down. Over the past several years, as large enterprise software providers -- such as SAP, IBM, VMware and Citrix -- bought out MobileIron's enterprise mobility management (EMM) competitors, Tinker opposed an acquisition, according to sources close to the company.

Now, despite Mainz's history with MobileIron -- his previous company, Intel subsidiary Wind River, was a customer -- some observers see the changing of the guard as a sign the vendor will explore a deal.

Barry Mainz, CEO at MobileIronBarry Mainz

In this interview, Mainz addressed the MobileIron acquisition speculation, the future of the company and the changing dynamics of the EMM market.

You've said you didn't join MobileIron to lead the company into being acquired, but also that you would look at all offers. What would you say to customers regarding their confidence in MobileIron's future?

Mainz: I got to see our competitors' products as a customer. MobileIron's got the best products. With some focus on inside sales, some lead generation, shoring up our go-to-market, I have a really, really, really high level of confidence that we have the capability to continue to grow the company. My plan's not to sell the company. I want to build the company.

Clarissa Horowitz, MobileIron vice president of communications: At the same time ... as a public company, we have a responsibility to review any offer that is presented to us.

How has consolidation in the EMM market affected MobileIron and customers?

Mainz: We're getting more coming to us. It's been a great thing. Acquisitions end up being like bad cholesterol sometimes. You inject it in your veins, and you slow down. This business is all about velocity.

Acquisitions end up being like bad cholesterol sometimes.
Barry MainzCEO, MobileIron

Who do you view as MobileIron's biggest competitors?

Mainz: I don't think the traditional vendors that we have -- the VMwares -- are really our competitors. It's the next player that comes out and looks at identity management and application security and app management. I don't even know if that player's been named yet. Is it Cisco? Is it FireEye? Is it Juniper? Is it Symantec? Is it McAfee? There's a whole host of the old guard. Maybe one of them would emerge as a major competitor.

Does EMM have a future as a standalone product?

Mainz: We're going to get a rejuvenation. EMM's a part of it, but there's also a security and business process integration piece. There's an absolute opportunity, and I hear it from customers. That was one of the reasons why I came. Secure email is version one. But then ... if we really look at business outcomes, we become a very critical piece of the infrastructure for CIOs.

Read more of our interview with MobileIron CEO Barry Mainz in the March issue of the Modern Mobility e-zine, due out March 8.

Next Steps

Check out this timeline of EMM vendor acquisitions.

What happens when your EMM vendor is acquired?

Microsoft and MobileIron now offer unified endpoint management.

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Will a MobileIron acquisition happen in 2016? If so, who will buy the company?
HP will purchase MobileIron. No question.
Do you think a fairly major acquisition into a new market is in HP's cards after the company just split up to become more focused and agile?
I should probably be more specific: Hewlett Packard Enterprise (obviously). They're the only real player in the space that makes sense in my eyes. Assuming they want to remain competitive in the field, some sort of real EMM is going to be key for integration into their current suites. SIEM, storage, App Security. DBM. Networking. Everything they have their hands in screams a need for single-platform integration and security. I'm no infallible expert or anything, but they can certainly benefit from entering the space, and the split clearly indicates an interest in delineating between an end-user hardware side of the company and an enterprise-focused suite of solutions.
What about Oracle? They're another large enterprise software vendor, and they don't really have a mobile play.
Certainly couldn't be ruled out. However, it just seems like HP's product line begs for more EMM than does Oracle's. Further, Oracle seems to have been relying increasingly upon VMWare in recent days, which is, of course, not a huge roadblock to such an acquisition, but I just don't see them maintaining as much of a need as does the likes of HP. Do you think Oracle to be a top contender if an MI acquisition were to happen in 2016? 
Amazon should and could
Amazon would be interesting. It has quite a few enterprise mobility related services, so EMM would be a logical next step. And MobileIron does offer cloud-based EMM, which would fit with Amazon's business model.
Im thinking Cisco. For HP to buy them, it would be the same struggle IBM has with MaaS360. It would be detrimental to them. Its easier for HP to remain agnostic when it comes to who they support. Cisco on the other hand has made a foray into this arena before. They tried with the Ceus device, and it was just to proprietary.
What is the struggle that IBM has with MaaS360?
IBM while trying to remain 'agnostic' with who they support struggle with too much selling of MaaS360 when their customers have some other solution. While MaaS360 seems to remain at the top of the magic quadrant their offering is lack luster compared to the seasoned players. The feature parity is not that great when compared to others, and its like you are buying a gallon of milk(MaaS360), and end up with the whole cow (IBM).