i2 Says "I Do"

Say goodbye to another remnant of the dot-com bust, Fool; i2 Technologies (Nasdaq: ITWO  ) this week said "I do" to JDA Software (Nasdaq: JDAS  ) , which is acquiring the company in a cash deal worth $346 million.

I'm sad to see i2 leave the stock stage. Once a star of the digitally gilded age of 1998 to 2001, i2 had been a candidate to join Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) , eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY  ) , and Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX  ) in David Gardner's real-money Rule Breaker portfolio. It never did, although David didn't much miss it -- his picks returned more than 20% annually from 1994 to 2003.

Even so, i2 had an interesting story. Founded in 1988, the company develops and sells supply chain management software. Translated: This is the stuff manufacturers use to ensure that the right parts are in the right places so that inventory matches demand and factory planning and product assembly proceed as they should. Think of Dell and its build-to-order system and you'll start to get a picture of what i2 does. During the dot-com days of September 2000 -- when i2's market value soared higher than $30 billion -- if you wanted to be like Mike (Dell), you had to be using i2.

What most of us didn't understand -- or maybe refused to accept -- was that it was a dry creek rather than a deep moat that protected i2's sexy growth story. Large-scale software suppliers such as Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL  ) and SAP (NYSE: SAP  ) had a huge interest in winning supply chain business, and in going after it, they had a huge advantage over i2: They could sell entire suites of software.

Tech buyers like to buy in bulk from a handful of suppliers; contracts are simpler and support is easier to come by. Integration between software programs is also (usually) less of an issue. (Though this process is becoming less of a concern with the advent of cloud computing.)

By the end of 2007, i2's revenue had slid for four years straight, down from greater than 30% growth in 2001.

So, today, we say goodbye to a Rule Breaker that almost was. Not a Faker Breaker but a rebel whose cause failed to produce enough of a following. Fare thee well, i2. You were more than a dot in dot-com.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers owned shares of Oracle at the time of publication. When he’s not typing up articles for Fool.com, you'll find him picking growth stocks for Rule Breakers. Get access to all of his writings, or enjoy a daily dose of his Foolishness via this feed for your RSS reader.

Amazon, eBay, and Starbucks are Stock Advisor selections. Dell and Starbucks are Inside Value recommendations. Try either of these market-beating services free for 30 days. There's no obligation to subscribe. The Motley Fool owns shares of Starbucks. Its disclosure policy would accept your proposal if it weren't already betrothed to the Fool's trading guidelines.


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