Dash Optimization, makers of Xpress-MP (one of the two leading linear and integer programming solvers, along with ILOG’s CPLEX), has been acquired by Fair Isaac. Fair Isaac is an anaytical application company, known best for their credit rating systems (they do the FICO scores that companies use to determine whether to extend credit). This is an interesting move. On one hand, we have a premier OR company being acquired by a company that is not particularly known in the OR world (despite their analytical focus). Will Xpress-MP be forgotten, particularly as the credit market is troubled? Will Xpress-MP continue to be a available and supported for the broader world?
On the other hand, a very well-known company now has operations research software as a key aspect of their offerings. Will they be able to leverage this to extend the reach of OR to more firms? One nice line of their press release:
We will showcase the Dash products and introduce our clients to these capabilities at the forthcoming InterACT conferences in Vienna and San Francisco.
Having OR methods showcased by Fair Isaac could be a huge boon to the field. If companies think “Fair Isaac is investing in OR, maybe we should find out more about the field”, that would be great! But one potentially worrisome aspect of the press release:
With Dash part of Fair Isaac, we can do more to:
- Incorporate an additional layer of analytic power into our industry-standard solutions
- Create advanced custom solutions based on specific client needs
- Develop innovative new solutions for large and complex business problems
How much will Fair Isaac keep within itself rather than provide core optimization products to the wider world? The longer press release calms fears about the role Dash software will play:
Fair Isaac’s acquisition of Dash builds upon a longstanding partnership between the two firms. Dash optimization technology is currently embedded in Fair Isaac’s Decision Optimizer, a software tool for achieving the smartest decision strategies given operational complexities, resource constraints and market uncertainties.
“Demand for sophisticated decision management tools is growing rapidly, and the addition of Dash optimization technology to our portfolio helps us to remain the market leader,” said Mark Greene, CEO of Fair Isaac. “With their optimization capabilities and our own business rules management and predictive analytic solutions, Fair Isaac now has the industry’s most comprehensive decision management suite.”
Being part of a “decision management suite” seems good!
There is a discussion of this on the USENET group sci.opresearch. In the discussion, Bob Daniels, one of the founders of Dash Optimization, talks about the change:
The good news for Xpress-MP and its users is that ALL the Dash employees are
moving enthusiastically to Fair Isaac and the development budget is
For those of you who don’t know, the name “Dash” comes from (Bob) Daniel and
(Robert) ASHford. Robert and I, and the team we have recruited, have been
developing Xpress-MP for over two decades and we weren’t about to sell our
“baby” to people who weren’t dedicated to Math Programming and Xpress-MP. Of
course, we the founders have moved to Fair Isaac too.
Best wishes to Bob Daniels and the rest of the Dash Optimization team in making this transition from a stand-alone company to part of a much bigger operation. And let’s hope that Xpress-MP continues to get better and better (and not just for the use of Fair Isaac!).