HTC Corp. will invest $35.4 million in Magnet Systems, which builds enterprise software leveraging both mobile technology and the cloud. The latter’s most visible product, SalesWIN, delivers sales-management data via the Magnet enterprise platform to Android and Apple iOS devices.
Magnet Systems has been in an expansionary mood, with its Website soliciting cloud architects to help develop the Magnet enterprise platform, as well as enterprise manageability architects (“Experience designing and developing REST architecture a plus”) and database engineers. HTC’s investment will earn it 17.1 percent of the company.
“The investment will bring social, mobile, and cloud capabilities to HTC’s portfolio of service offerings to its mobile enterprise customers,” HTC wrote in an Aug. 20 statement. In other words, HTC wants a piece of the enterprise, which has seen an influx of Android and iOS devices over the past several quarters as IT administrators have relaxed sometimes-stringent corporate mobile policies.
HTC faces a number of fierce competitors in the mobile and cloud space, most notably Samsung and Apple. To better fight those battles, the company has made several high-profile investments and acquisitions—a few of which met either ambiguous or outright disastrous ends.
In 2011, HTC poured hundreds of millions into Beats Electronics, a high-profile firm headlined by music producer Jimmy Iovine and hip-hop star Dr. Dre, and integrated the latter’s audio technology into smartphones such as the HTC Rezound. Roughly a year into that deal, however, HTC turned around and sold half its shares back to Beats for around $150 million.
While HTC reportedly lost some money on the Beats investment, its losses from cloud-gaming company OnLive’s recent asset restructuring could total as much as $40 million. (OnLive’s lack of operating cash and investor skittishness led it to declare the restructuring over the weekend.)
HTC could have more luck investing in an enterprise company instead of firms with a decidedly consumer bent; after all, the enterprise-centric ones are supposed to plod forward at a deliberate pace, largely immune from the fickle trends that can make or doom their consumerist brethren. Even so, any success will depend on exactly how HTC decides to incorporate its new cloud asset into its portfolio.