Last week, GeoPDF maker, TerraGo Technologies, acquired Geosemble, a software company with products to enhance and analyze text and other unstructured content in a geographical context. Editor in Chief Joe Francica discussed the acquisition with TerraGo CEO Rick Cobb.
Directions Magazine (DM): Congratulations on the acquisition. Where do you see the synergies of Geosemble with TerraGo? Products? Talent?
Rick Cobb, TerraGo Technologies (RC): Thank you, we are very excited to join forces with Geosemble and welcome our new colleagues to the TerraGo team.
For starters, the software solutions from Geosemble and TerraGo are complementary, each providing customers with discrete functionality in support of a common mission. TerraGo geospatial intelligence software and GeoPDF maps and imagery enable users to produce, access, update and share geospatial information and applications with anyone, anywhere. In addition to other capabilities Geosemble has developed, its flagship product, GeoXray, automates the process of discovering, geospatially visualizing, monitoring and sharing relevant unstructured information from any source. The software mines and processes content from news, blogs and social media and analyzes data by place, time and topic. All of these capabilities are part of a much larger solution for the enterprises we serve that need actionable geospatial intelligence and enhanced situational awareness for better planning and faster response.
We see additional synergies across the board. We currently work with many of the same customers and partners across the same programs and even share a common investor in In-Q-Tel, through whom we first met Geosemble a few years ago. Our firms are both relatively young innovators in geospatial intelligence software, and our resources are complementary. Geosemble brings to TerraGo a sharp technical team who will complement our own talented technologists. Where Geosemble had not invested deeply – in sales/BD/marketing/customer support and shared services – we are relatively mature. And while each firm’s applications can stand alone, the solutions we can offer will be very synergistic. The combined capabilities enable users to selectively discover relevant spatial content that can be geo, structured or unstructured; compose dynamic, interactive geospatial intelligence applications and reports; and collaborate in online and disconnected environments amongst analysts, decision makers and especially users at the edge.
DM: Do you see the combined product suites as a play in the GEOINT space or can they be broader?
RC: Yes and yes. There are compelling applications across what many might see as today’s core “GEOINT” space, namely defense and intelligence, public safety, crisis management, energy and natural resources management. Others would counter that GEOINT is rapidly expanding into new areas such as insurance and financial services, where customers might be more likely to think of GEOINT as “geospatial business intelligence.” In any case, opportunities abound across both traditional and emerging GEOINT markets.
DM: The GeoXray product from Geosemble is an interesting solution for mining unstructured data and social media. Where do you see the fit with TerraGo’s suite that deals more with structured content?
RC: TerraGo’s traditional Publisher and Composer applications deal largely with geospatial data and structured data, although in some of our newer Web-based solutions we source and integrate unstructured data into on-demand map books and other geo apps. And much of the personal data an end user would add and share with the TerraGo Toolbar and TerraGo Mobile – comments, pictures, lines and shapes, etc. – are unstructured in nature (we’ve also recently added geoforms which allow field collection of structured feature data).
Geosemble’s capabilities cover structured and unstructured data as well, but many of the unique and powerful features it offers focus on discovering and analyzing unstructured content, then merging it with geospatial data. But there may be an easier way to look at this:
When a field user (soldier or emergency responder, for instance) opens a map book made with TerraGo software, comprised of content from Esri, BAE Systems, Overwatch, Intergraph, Skyline, a Web service or other system/source, they answer questions such as, “Where am I, they or it? What’s in and around the surrounding environment? What do we officially know about the people/places/things herein?” Many of those answers come from the geo and structured feature data often found in a GIS. GeoXray helps answer the question “…and what’s going on here now, or has happened recently, that I care about?” GeoXray helps answer this question by connecting to myriad data sources and providing just that information that is timely, relevant and pertinent to the location of interest.
DM: Did you feel like you needed a company that focused more on “search” to deal with the realities of Web-based SaaS solutions rather than TerraGo’s more desktop solutions?
RC: We’ve been supporting Web-based and SaaS environments for years, along with desktop and mobile environments. Examples include our integration with GeoEye’s EyeQ portal for on-demand, portable, interactive GeoPDF imagery production or Army’s eIndex Server implementation that produces map books on-demand. We offer solutions that integrate with ArcGIS Server, BAE System’s GXP Explorer and Google Earth. All of our capabilities are SaaS/Web capable. So a lack of Web-based or SaaS experience was not the reason.
We acquired Geosemble because it helps solve some very hard problems our customers are facing, including an explosion in big, unstructured data; challenges with location-based discovery/analysis; and difficulty enabling geospatial collaboration across the enterprise. The fact that it is Web-based and can run in the cloud is both compelling and a must-have in today’s enterprise.
DM: What’s the “go to market” strategy at this early stage with the acquisition?
RC: The go-to-market strategy is simple and straightforward. First, we we’ll most certainly continue to serve both companies’ user bases and make sure those deployments continue to be successful; that is always our first priority. Second, we’ll market, sell and support the discreet products that came from each company through one integrated, well-aligned team. Both of those phases are happening from day-one. Third, we’ll offer fully integrated solutions as the technology merges in greater depth, based on valuable feedback from customers and partners. Much of that integration is at the “services” level, so not very disruptive.
All-in-all, we’re very thankful to have the chance to bring these firms together and are looking forward to doing some exciting, valuable things for our customers and partners.