Tag Archives: acquired

Sony acquired digital media identification company Gracenote for about $260M

Sony has today announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Gracenote for about $260M plus other contingent consideration. Gracenote provides a range of music-related solutions including MusicID, which detects which song is currently being played by an application and loads track information for the user. MusicID leverages a database of over 6M CDs and 80M tracks and the technology has been in works since 1995 known previously with the name CDDB.

“Gracenote is a global leader in technology and services for digital media identification, enrichment, and recommendation, and these capabilities will be essential to the next wave of innovation in content, services, and consumer electronics,” said Tim Schaaff, SCA Senior Vice President, Software. “Sony sees tremendous growth potential in developing Gracenote as a separately run business unit, and by broadly embracing Gracenote’s platforms, Sony expects to significantly enhance and accelerate its own digital content, service, and device initiatives.”

“We are very pleased to join Sony as its strategic vision is very much in line with our own,” said Craig Palmer, Gracenote CEO. “Having a closer connection with the content and digital services community will accelerate adoption of Gracenote technologies, and the relationship will also give us the resources necessary to rapidly expand development of next generation products for the industry.”

Gracenote’s existing business will continue to operate separately. As a wholly owned Sony subsidiary, Gracenote will continue to develop new technologies in existing as well as new areas of operation. The senior management team will remain with the company. Sony and Gracenote anticipate that the transaction will close in late May, subject to certain regulatory and other approvals.

Many consumer music app services Apple iTunes, Yahoo! Music Jukebox, and Winamp use Gracenote for their music detection capabilities. Other consumer electronic brands are also associated with the company such as SonyEricsson, Philips Wireless Music Systems, Cadillac, Apple iPod, among others. 

More about Gracenote

Gracenote is a global leader in embedded technology, enriched content, and data services for digital entertainment solutions within the Internet, consumer electronics, mobile, and automotive markets. Formerly known as CDDB®, Gracenote delivers a substantially improved consumer experience in digital media devices and applications, plus media monitoring and other data services to the recording industry, making it an integral part of the digital media economy. Gracenote powers leading services including Apple iTunes, Yahoo! Music Jukebox, Winamp; home and automotive products from Alpine, Panasonic, Philips and Sony; and mobile music applications from Samsung, Sony Ericsson, KDDI (Japan), KTF (Korea), Musiwave (Europe), and others. Gracenote is headquartered in Emeryville, California.

Founders

Steve Scherf, Co-Founder & Chief Architect/Vice President of Service Development
Steve Scherf and business partner Ti Kan created the CDDB compact disc recognition service as a hobby in 1995 in order to get personal computers to display information about the CDs they were playing. To their surprise, the service became overwhelmingly popular, prompting them to found CDDB LLC in 1998. Later that year the company was acquired by Escient LLC, and the name was changed to Gracenote. After the acquisition, Scherf took on the role of Chief Architect for all Gracenote services. Scherf has since been the driving force behind nearly every fundamental Gracenote technology, cementing his position as one of the main pioneers of media recognition. Scherf personally designed and built the lion’s share of the current incarnation of the Gracenote service, a modular system that is extremely flexible, scalable and massively redundant, and is capable of easily incorporating new services as the need arises. He architected, designed, and developed the technology behind other Gracenote online products, such as Link, Discover, Music Enrichment, the MusicID® search engine, and others. In addition, Scherf has assimilated a number of third-party recognition technologies into the Gracenote suite, such as Mobile MusicID, re-implementing and improving them from the ground up. His pioneering work in media recognition also forms the basis of Gracenote’s embedded offerings. Prior to co-founding Gracenote, Scherf worked as Unix kernel developer for such companies as Altos Computer Systems, Acer America and Stratus Computer, delving into file systems, I/O performance, SCSI subsystems, networking and fault tolerance. Scherf graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1988 with a B.A. in Math and Biology.

Dale (Ty) Roberts, Co-Founder
Ty Roberts is widely recognized as one of the inventors of enhanced CD technology and is accredited with producing the industry’s first enhanced CDs. He joined Gracenote in November of 1998 after the company acquired ION, a multimedia and music technology company that he founded in 1993. Roberts serves as Gracenote’s chief technology strategist, providing technology direction and overseeing the creation of products and services that leverage the power of the Gracenote database to deliver information services. While at ION, Roberts produced the recording industry’s first enhanced audio CD titles, including David Bowie’s “Jump” and “Headcandy” from Brian Eno. He was the company’s lead technologist and innovator in adding multimedia content to traditional audio CDs. ION was also widely recognized as a leading provider of enhanced CD production tools utilized by recording and multimedia development companies. In September 1993, Bertelsmann Music Group created the first interactive record label after acquiring a 50 percent interest in ION. Prior to founding ION, Roberts was a founder and senior manager of LightSource, a software development company that produced multimedia and graphics editing software. Previously, he was a senior engineer at Pixar, where he created several award winning, Apple-based music applications including “Studio Session” and “Jam Session.” Roberts is Gracenote’s representative to the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), organization that is chartered with establishing standards for di gital music and music playing devices.

Ann Greenberg, Co-Founder
A pioneer in the online world, Ms. Greenberg is an inventor on seven U.S. patents, related to the delivery of content synchronized to audio recordings. She joined Gracenote in November of 1998 after the company acquired ION, a multimedia and music technology company that she founded in 1993. Greenberg served as Sr. Vice President of Marketing, Business and Strategic Development during her tenure at Gracenote until October 2001. No longer affiliated with Gracenote, Ms. Greenberg currently works as an independent consultant in the Bay Area. While at ION, Ms. Greenberg produced the recording industry’s first enhanced audio CD titles, including David Bowie’s “Jump” and “Headcandy” from Brian Eno. Greenberg designed the Jump’s groundbreaking interactive video, and produced the world’s first musician-hosted chat with David Bowie in 1994 – a format that has become standard practice in launching albums. Greenberg transitioned ION’s enhanced CD technology and business models into implementations that use the Web and are being utilized at Gracenote today. Prior to founding ION, Greenberg was the head of marketing for the Academy Award winning Edward R. Pressman Film Corporation, whose over 60 films include: Wall Street, True Stories, Talk Radio, Reversal of Fortune, Hoffa, Bad Lieutenant, The Crow and Judge Dredd. Ms. Greenberg studied Architecture and Cinema and earned a degree in Creative Arts & Cinema from California State University at San Francisco.

Scott A. Jones – Chairman of the Board and co-Founder
Scott Jones carefully sculpted the Gracenote company into existence by acquiring pivotal enabling technologies from CDDB, ION, Escient, Quintessential Player, and Cantametrix. He served as the company’s Chairman/CEO from 1998 to 2001 and is now Chairman of the Board. Jones raised significant capital, recruited a talented management team, contributed technology and intellectual property, and strategically guided Gracenote to pursue market segments that are the foundation of the Company’s success.

More about Sony Corporation of America

Sony Corporation of America, based in New York, NY, is a U.S. subsidiary of Sony Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo. Sony is a leading manufacturer of audio, video, communications, and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. Its motion picture, television, computer entertainment, music and online businesses make Sony one of the most comprehensive entertainment companies in the world. Sony’s principal U.S. businesses include Sony Electronics Inc., Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc., and a 50% interest in Sony BMG Music Entertainment, one of the largest recorded music companies in the world. Sony recorded consolidated annual sales of approximately $70.3 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2007, and it employs 163,000 people worldwide. Sony’s consolidated sales in the U.S. for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2007 were $18.9 billion. 

More

http://www.gracenote.com/
http://www.gracenote.com/company_info/press/042208/
https://doors.gracenote.com/developer/
http://www.sony.com
http://www.sony.com/SCA/index.shtml
http://www.streetinsider.com/Press%2BReleases/Sony%2BCorporation%2Bof%2BAmerica%2Bto%2BAcquire%2BGracenote/3566949.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/22/sony-buys-gracenote-for-260m/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/gracenote
http://www.techmeme.com/080422/p141#a080422p141
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secure_Digital_Music_Initiative

Pageflakes is acquired by Brad Greenspan’s Live Universe

Pageflakes, an Ajax home page that once was a real competition to Netvibes, is being rumored to have been acquired by Live Universe for an undisclosed amount. Both companies refrain themselves from publicly announcing the deal nor made any comments on the technology blogs that mentioned about it, which tells us the deal is most likely in the very low-range not worth mentioning. What makes us think so? Pageflakes has surely lost the battle with Netvibes and is having just a fraction of the traffic Netvibes reaches. The rumor has it the company was seriously running out of money while maintaining a burn rate of over $300,000. It also became publicly known fact that the company failed to raise additional money and they were sort of forced to undergo the fire sale road, which is never a good one and leads to little to no premium on the price. 

Based on both Quantcast and Compete the Pageflakes’ traffic is relatively low (below 100K) when compared to some of the company’s competitors, which is by far not enough to go for your Series B round of funding.

Of course, Pageflakes CEO Dan Cohen, formerly of Yahoo, denied that the company was running out of cash by replying to rumors that way: “All startups are up for sale! We frequently receive inbound M&A inquiries”. 

According to our own research across the web it seems the price is perhaps above $500K and may be not much over $1M. A couple of facts lead us to the thinking that the deal is not high-profile one 1) The Colorado-based NewsGator was also said to have been bidding for Pageflakes, but the rumored price was in the $500K range; 2) Brad Greenspan’s vehicle is known to be buying web companies on the cheap and 3) both companies did not announce the deal, yet.

The buyer Live Universe, which was founded by MySpace founder Brad Greenspan, has made a number of acquisitions to spur growth. Most recently, they acquired video site Revver (also relatively cheap, price perhaps was in the $1M range), in February 2008.

More about Pageflakes

The company was founded in Germany and is headquartered in San Francisco. The company was co-founded in October 2005 by Christoph Janz, Omar AL Zabir, Ole Braundenburg and Shahedul Huq Khandkar. Benchmark Capital Europe (now Balderton Capital) invested $1.3 million in Pageflakes in May 2006, and followed up with a $2.8 million bridge taking the company’s total funding to the $4.1M mark.

Pageflakes is the easiest way to read, see, discover and share your favorite things on the web. Start by easily creating a web start page that keeps you up to date on the many blogs and news sources that you read daily. Add photos, videos, a calendar, email, a to-do list and more to make your page even more personal. You can even make special pages that you can share with friends, family, or post on the web for everyone.

Pageflakes has thousands of Flakes (widgets or modules) including Facebook, a universal News Search, YouTube, Twitter, message board, blog, and hundreds of RSS feeds to choose from. Design and create a page that you can have for yourself or share with anyone you choose.

Pageflakes was founded in Germany in 2006 and headquartered in San Francisco, California. Pageflakes draws on the rich experience of its executive team, comprised of seasoned professionals who have helped shape the Web today. Backed by Balderton Capital, Pageflakes is led by Dan Cohen, an innovator who fashioned the way that both Google and Yahoo sought to personalize the Web.

From what we read below the company’s CEO is obviously a very experienced guy in the personalized content space so we have no idea what’s gone wrong, where and when.

Dan Cohen oversees all aspects of Pageflakes’ rapidly growing worldwide business and has an integral role in driving the company’s product vision. Dan is a seasoned entrepreneur and startup CEO, and is an expert in personalized homepages. Prior to Pageflakes he was the head of My Yahoo!, Yahoo’s personalized homepage, and before that led product management for personalized products at Google, including the Google Personalized Homepage. Previously, Dan was the founder and CEO of two technology companies, Personity and USConnect, and led their acquisitions by Openwave and IKON, respectively. He also held key senior management positions at IKON Technology Services, including Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Director of Applications Development. Dan holds a dual Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon, and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Dan is staying on his CEO position and is said will be reporting to Greenspan, and the company will remain at their current offices in Germany and San Francisco.

Competitors include Netvibes, My AOL, Microsoft, My Yahoo! and of course iGoogle.

More

http://pageflakes.com/
http://www.pageflakes.com/insider/
http://www.liveuniverse.com/
http://www.balderton.com/
http://www.pageflakes.com/company/exec_team
http://www.crunchbase.com/person/dan-cohen
http://www.crunchbase.com/financial-organization/balderton-capital
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/13/pageflakes-acquired-by-live-universe/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/pageflakes
http://gigaom.com/2008/04/13/pageflakes-out-of-cash/
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,2265800,00.asp
http://webworkerdaily.com/2007/01/02/top-ajax-start-pages-reviewed/
http://www.benchmark.com/news/sv/2007/06_07_2007a.php
http://gigaom.com/2007/01/25/ex-yahoo-exec-now-pageflakes-ceo/
http://www.quantcast.com/pageflakes.com
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/pageflakes.com/?metric=uv
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/15/revver-the-video-revenue-sharing-site-finally-sells-out-but-the-price-is-not-hefty/
http://mashable.com/2008/02/14/liveuniverse-buys-revver/

An Israeli sync start-up acquired for reportedly $25M

BeInSync Ltd., an Israeli-based provider of an all-in-one solution that allows users to backup, synchronize, share and access data online has been acquired by Phoenix Technologies for an undisclosed amount. However, Techcrunch has reported the company went for $25M.

Phoenix Technologies, based in Milpitas Calif., is a public company (PTEC) established in 1979 and designs, develops and supports core system software for personal computers and other computing devices. The Company’s product supports and enables the compatibility, connectivity, security, and manageability of the various components and technologies used in such devices. It sells these products primarily to computer and component device manufacturers. Phoenix Technologies has more than 300 employees and company’s today market capitalization was $426M on $47M revenues for the fiscal 2007.

BeInSync, on the other side, is just four and a half year old startup that is known to have raised $8M to date from several institutional investors like Alta Berkeley Venture Partners, Aviv Venture Capital Fund, and Eurofund. Looking at the numbers this seems not the dream exit for the investors – only $25M off $8M invested, but is perhaps better than nothing on the long term run considering the huge competition in the space of file sharing and synchronization among any type of devices from computers to mobile phones. The company’s founders are Tal Barnoach, Sharon Carmel, and Adi Ruppin.

The acquisition, which is anticipated to close within the next several weeks, represents yet another step by Phoenix in delivering on its PC 3.0 promise of Embedded Simplicity.

BeInSync’s technology redefines the way consumers and SMBs backup, access, share and protect documents, rich media files, and other important data. The company’s patent-pending, peer-to-peer technology allows users to seamlessly and securely access their latest files anytime and anywhere, automatically keeping files and folders ‘in sync’ and backed up across multiple computers, including home PCs, office PCs and laptops.

“This acquisition is a leap forward in our effort to redefine and significantly improve the PC experience by embedding simplicity for end users,” said Woody Hobbs, President and CEO of Phoenix Technologies. “PC 3.0 eliminates complexity and provides users with the kind of convenience they expect from their digital devices. We are bringing new benefits to the hundreds of millions of PC users globally who require built-in functionality on PCs by enabling secure and easy online access and collaboration and automated data protection to help them manage their digital lives.

“The integration of breakthrough synchronization technology from BeInSync will allow Phoenix and its customers to help end-users alleviate concerns about the loss of important files and to give them complete mobile freedom to access their data from any Internet-connected computer.”

Phoenix Technologies’ management team itself has extensive experience in synchronization technologies. Before joining Phoenix, Woody Hobbs served as President and CEO of Intellisync, a leader in wireless email and synchronization solutions, which was acquired in 2006 by Nokia.

“Given our past experience in synchronization solutions, it was fairly easy for us to identify the best possible technology existing out there that would fit in with our corporate vision and product strategy,” continued Hobbs. “We were very impressed with BeInSync’s people and their technology and we’re excited to work with them to transform data access and continuity for PC users in consumer and small business markets as well as in enterprise departments.

“End-users want to stay connected and always ‘be in sync’ with colleagues, friends, remote files and computer systems. We look forward to working with our OEM customers to make online synchronization and continuity a core part of the PC end user experience. Together, the two companies will meet a wider set of customer needs and have a significantly greater opportunity to enable PC OEMs to grow their markets.”

“We are very excited to be a part of Phoenix Technologies, the global leader in core systems firmware for PCs,” said Tal Barnoach, Founder and Chairman of BeInSync. “With this acquisition, Phoenix is extending its leadership in the PC industry to include products in its portfolio that will set the standard yet again for providing the best-in-class solutions to PC OEMs and their customers.”

Upon the closing of the acquisition, Sharon Carmel, Founder & Vice President of R&D at BeInSync, will join Phoenix as Vice President & Chief Scientist of Synchronization and Continuity Solutions and Phoenix will continue to maintain operations out of Tel Aviv, Israel. The two companies are developing integration plans that build on corporate similarities and the best business and product development practices from each company.

“Both Phoenix and BeInSync are passionate about creating and enabling great user experiences across the entire range of mobile PCs,” said Carmel. “Our combined teams will be a powerful force for innovation around emerging mobile computing platforms for delivering web-based data management and data protection solutions. PC 3.0 users will no longer be dependent on a single, stand-alone PC for access to their files and digital life. At the same time, Phoenix’s OEM customers will have new opportunities to differentiate their offerings, and provide additional value-added services as part of the PC sale.”

More about BeInSync

BeInSync redefines the way consumers and businesses access, share and protect their documents, photos, videos and music. With over 4 million downloads, BeInSync offers users complete freedom when dealing with their digital content, by allowing them to seamlessly sync, share, access and backup their data. Based on patent-pending secure peer-to-peer technology, BeInSync creates your own private data network that makes it easy to stay connected and always in sync with colleagues, friends, remote files and computers.

More about Phoenix Technologies

Phoenix Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: PTEC) is the global market leader in system firmware that provides the most secure foundation for today’s computing environments. The PC industry’s top builders and specifiers trust Phoenix to pioneer open standards and deliver innovative solutions that will help them differentiate their systems, reduce time-to-market and increase their revenues. The Company’s flagship products, AwardCore, SecureCore, FailSafe and HyperSpace, are revolutionizing the PC user experience by delivering unprecedented security, reliability and ease-of-use. The Company established industry leadership with its original BIOS product in 1983, has 155 technology patents and 139 pending applications, and has shipped in over one billion systems. Phoenix is headquartered in Milpitas, California with offices worldwide.

More

http://www.beinsync.com
http://www.beinsync.com/company/press-releases/press_release_phoenix_anouncement.php
http://www.phoenix.com
http://investor.phoenix.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=301730
http://www.thecoils.com/2008/03/27/beinsync_exit/ (in Hebrew)
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/26/beinsync-acquired-by-phoenix-technologies-for-25m/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/beinsync
http://www.beinsync.com/
http://investor.phoenix.com/common/download/download.cfm?companyid=PTEC&fileid=183485&filekey=d858c202-a278-42bf-b2b4-23ce4ce3a404&filename=301730.pdf
http://finance.google.com/finance?q=PTEC
http://www.altaberkeley.com/
http://www.avivvc.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extensible_Firmware_Interface
http://www.eurofund.co.il/

Website Optimization company and CMS leader joined forces

An interesting deal happened a few months ago, announced in October 2007 and closed in November the same year. Interwoven, a public company traded on NASDAQ, has acquired the said website optimization pioneer Optimost.

The both companies then said that combination of Interwoven’s Content Management Solutions with Optimost’s Multivariable Testing and Optimization Solution will help organizations maximize online business performance.

Under the terms of the agreement between Optimost and Interwoven, Interwoven will pay approximately $52 million in cash for all outstanding shares of Optimost and assume certain existing employee stock options. From what we were able to dig up, Optimost is probably having less than $8M in revenues per year, which translates into multiple around 6X the revenues, which is not that impressive number after all. Interwoven is based in San Jose, Calif, and is making itself over $200M in revenues enjoying a market capitalization of 539.57M (March 17 2008).

As businesses continue to spend unprecedented amounts to drive traffic to their Websites through search engine marketing, pay-per-click ads, banner ads, e-mail, and other tactics, they face a significant challenge in converting traffic into revenue-generating customers. The combination of Interwoven’s content management solutions and Optimost’s optimization solution helps businesses address this challenge by providing marketers with the industry’s most complete set of capabilities for creating, deploying, testing, analyzing, and optimizing targeted content to Website visitors.

“This acquisition supports our strategy to power our customers’ online presence, and we believe it puts Interwoven at the top of the short list of a company’s must-have partners for online business,” said Joe Cowan, chief executive officer at Interwoven. “Companies today understand that maximizing their online business performance is the key to accelerating growth and profits, and that content is at the core of their online strategy. By acquiring Optimost, we are providing customers with a powerful solution for optimizing their content – which creates the connection point between the visitor and the Web – to provide the most compelling experience, faster, more efficiently, and more effectively than ever before.”

Founded in 2001, Optimost is a privately-held company headquartered in New York City, whose customers include Ask.com, Auto Trader, Delta Air Lines, FAO Schwarz, Lenovo, and MGM Mirage. Optimost has a proven track record in helping its clients achieve double-digit increases in conversion rates and online sales. For example, Delta Air Lines made changes to Delta.com based on the results of its multivariable optimization initiative, which has added up to approximately $15 million in additional revenue so far this year.

“Today’s announcement is wonderful news for Optimost’s customers,” said Mark Wachen, chief executive officer at Optimost. “When we founded Optimost, our vision was to deliver technology that allows marketers to increase the effectiveness of their online presence to drive measurable business results. Clearly, Interwoven shares the same vision and by combining forces we will be able to extend our innovative technology to a much larger market and provide Optimost customers with a more complete solution for maximizing their marketing investments. We look forward to joining the team at Interwoven.”
In just matter of couple of weeks the deal was closed on November 1st, 2007.

All Optimost employees, including the founders, Mark Wachen and Lance Lovette, have joined Interwoven and will focus on product innovation, customer support, and the continued acceleration of Interwoven’s business in the online marketing arena.

The Optimost solutions are now available through Interwoven as a standalone offering as well as in conjunction with the solutions in Interwoven’s portfolio.

Interwoven expects the Optimost acquisition to contribute in the range of $1.5 million to $2.0 million to total revenue during the fourth quarter of 2007, subsequent to the acquisition date and before considering purchase accounting adjustments to revenues of approximately $1.0 million.

More about Optimost

New York-based Optimost is a technology and services company specializing in comprehensive real-time testing and conversion rate marketing. Pioneers in the field of multivariable testing, the firm is able to create and test virtually limitless permutations of copy, offers and layouts in the time it takes to conduct a standard A/B page comparison test. By combining real-life response data with information about which variables were displayed in the test, Optimost clients are able to determine how much each individual website element contributes to the overall response rate. Client web pages can then be optimized further based on the combinations of most positive individual site elements. Optimost clients include: InterActiveCorp, Lillian Vernon, Delta Air Lines, Time Warner, QVC, and EarthLink.

More about Interwoven

Interwoven is a global leader in content management solutions. Interwoven’s software and services enable organizations to maximize online business performance and organize, find, and govern business content. Interwoven solutions unlock the value of content by delivering the right content to the right person in the right context at the right time. Over 4,200 of the world’s leading companies, professional services firms, and governments have chosen Interwoven, including adidas, Airbus, Avaya, BT, Cisco, Citi, Delta Air Lines, DLA Piper, the Federal Reserve Bank, FedEx, Grant Thornton, Hilton Hotels, Hong Kong Trade and Development Council, HSBC, LexisNexis, MasterCard, Microsoft, Samsung, Shell, Qantas Airways, Tesco, Virgin Mobile, and White & Case. Over 20,000 developers and over 300 partners enrich and extend Interwoven’s offerings.

More

http://www.interwoven.com/
http://finance.google.com/finance?q=NASDAQ:IWOV
http://www.optimost.com/
http://www.interwoven.com/components/page.jsp?topic=MAIN::NEWS&dcr=components/optimost.jsp
http://www.interwoven.com/components/page.jsp?topic=NEWS::RELEASES&dcr=templatedata/announcement/press-release/data/2007/dcr-2007-10-17-optimost.xml
http://www.centernetworks.com/interwoven-acquires-optimost-social-news http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/18/interwoven-acquires-optimost-for-52-million/
http://www.optimost.com/press/2007-11-interwoven-announces-close.php
 

Taylor Nelson Sofres buys Compete.com

Compete, which started out in 2000 as an Idealab company, raised over $40M in funding to date, incurred $4.5M losses for the last year off $15M revenues and had hard time lately to compete with Quantcast has its exit day today. Compete has been acquired by the market research leader Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) for $75M plus another earn-out $75M through out 2008-2010 if certain conditions are met. Total acquisition price could possibly reach $150M. Compete.com calls that brilliant in their blog, which might be true taking into consideration that they have clearly lost the battle with Quantcast in the free traffic measurement space online. According to Compete’s own stats, it attracts about the same number of U.S. visitors a month as Alexa (727,000 for Compete versus 758,000 for Alexa), but Quantcast is the leader with more than double that (1.9M uniques). The deal and its price tag could also be called brilliant for Compete when compared to the comScore’s current market capitalization – $570M.

Since 2006 Compete tried almost everything on the PR front to gain popularity, create buzz, and increase its service awareness, but it had little to no success at all. In many aspects Compete’s traffic measurement, just like Alexa btw, is way inaccurate and incomplete when compared to quantified sites at Quantcast and perhaps TNS decided to buy the third or forth in the market due to a possible higher price Quantcast is currently looking for (or being not for sale) and the current market value comScore has. Both of them have been M&A targets for a while although no public facts are available as to whether TNS has been one of the suitors for either of the companies mentioned. By comparison, in 2007 Experian Group Ltd. paid $240 million to acquire another leading Web intelligence company, Hitwise Pty Ltd., which made money and had annual revenues of roughly $40 million. In other words, at a price tag of $75 million TNS is offering roughly 5 times Compete’s revenue, and it will pay 10 times sales if the target reaches the financial milestones stipulated under the earn-out clause. Experian paid a multiple of only 6 times sales for Hitwise.

One of the company’s latest developments was the partnership they made with Ask.com to provide compete data for sites on ask.com’s binoculars.

TNS is acquiring Compete primarily from a consortium of private venture capital companies. Compete is said it will continue to operate as a stand-alone company, but it has already identified stellar new product opportunities to develop with the TNS media intelligence and custom research teams.   

In additional to Idealab, Compete’s other investors include Charles River Ventures, Commonwealth Capital Partners, North Hill Ventures, Split Rock Partners, and William Blair Capital Partners. Total funding to date is $43M. Their investors were undoubtedly probably hoping for a much better outcome, but a solid double is better than nothing.

This acquisition brings together the global market information strength of TNS with Compete’s digital intelligence products and capabilities.  Digital intelligence combines data on user behavior and interactions on the internet with demographic and competitive information, to help businesses and marketers make critical, strategic and tactical business decisions. 

Through this acquisition, TNS will provide clients with new and valuable insights into how online consumer behavior affects purchasing decisions, enabling clients to improve their marketing effectiveness, both online and offline. Together, TNS and Compete will provide consumer, brand and media research and measurement services that will help businesses succeed in the digital marketing environment.

Compete conducts continuous analysis of internet clickstream data from close to 2 million people, weighted to match the US online population.  This information is used to measure how consumers consider, engage with and buy a client’s products or services online, relative to those of its competition.  This ability to analyze online behavior before a purchase is made enables Compete to advise clients on how to target online communications to individual consumers, to influence both their online and offline purchasing behavior.

As internet usage and e-retailing increases, clickstream data is expected to become a significant information source around which market research and analysis is based.  Recent estimates suggest that the US market in which Compete operates will grow from $325 million in 2007 to $500 million in 2009.  (Morgan Stanley research and Jupiter Research estimates of on-demand US web analytics market)

TNS will apply Compete’s ability to profile, measure and segment the online behavior of consumers to its own 6th dimension access panels.  This will start in the US, where TNS has a fully managed access panel of more than one million people and will then be extended across its network.  This will give TNS an unmatched ability to provide insight based on online and offline behavior and on consumer attitudes. 

David Lowden, Chief Executive of TNS, said: “This acquisition is an important move for TNS that builds on our ability to help clients understand consumer behavior in the new and highly complex digital world.  Compete has built a world-class digital intelligence capability that delivers multiple perspectives on how consumers engage with brands online. Its strength lies in its ability to provide competitive analysis of individuals’ online behavior, a rapidly growing section of the market that has enormous potential. 

“TNS will enhance this offering by putting it together with the understanding of consumer attitudes and behavior that we gain from our access panels.  We will use our network to offer this powerful combination to clients across the globe.  In the longer term, we will look at the opportunities to add further value by using our Worldpanel, Retail & Shopper and audience measurement capabilities to integrate data on purchasing and viewing behavior with internet search and shopping behavior.  We believe this will allow TNS to develop new syndicated and custom products, unique in our industry.”

Donald McLagan, Chairman and CEO of Compete, said: “We welcome this exciting opportunity to join one of the world’s most respected market information and insight groups.  Whether consumers buy online, or simply research online as they reach a purchasing decision, the marketing platforms they encounter bring major opportunities for brands.  Companies need to understand how the internet affects consumer preferences, attitudes, knowledge, understanding and motivation.  They also need help in maximizing the new online sales and marketing opportunities to target their prospective customers more effectively.  For the first time, we have given clients the opportunity to measure their effectiveness across all their marketing programmes.  This ability will be greatly enhanced when we are part of TNS.”

More about Compete

Compete, Inc. is a provider of analytics, research, and business intelligence. Compete gathers web behavior information from users who sign up at their site, then analyzes these data to create customized reports for client companies. Compete also offers a free web analytics tool for the general public at Compete.com.

Compete was founded in 2000 and is based in Boston, Massachusetts.  It analyses internet clickstream information received from its own panel and from internet service providers.  Compete uses proprietary data methodologies to normalize this data, making it representative of the entire US online market place. It specializes in the telecoms, media, automotive, financial services and travel industries, with a sector-based organization mirroring that of TNS.  It also has expertise in the field of online search evaluation.  Current management will remain with the company.  Clients, who include some of the world’s best-known brands, are engaged on a subscription basis, with analysis provided weekly or monthly.  The company has won a range of awards, including the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 two years in a row, the US Advertising Research Foundation David Ogilvy Award and the AdAge Power 150. Bill Gross is the company’s founder who had previously helped create the search engine that became Overture and later was acquired by Yahoo!.  

Compete has several competitors in enterprise-level web analytics and market research, including Nielsen/NetRatings, Hitwise, comScore, Amazon’s Alexa and Quantcast.

More about TNS

TNS is the third-largest market research firm across the globe (Honomichl)
TNS is the biggest provider of online market information in the world
TNS does more custom market research than any other firm worldwide
TNS Media Intelligence is the top-ranked ad spend measurement company
The TNS 6th Dimension access panels reach over two million consumers globally

The 1960s saw the creation of five of the market research companies that are at the heart of the Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) group today:

  • Intersearch in the USA in1960
  • AGB in UK in 1962
  • Sofres in France in 1963
  • Frank Small Associates in Australia in 1964
  • Taylor Nelson in UK in 1965
  • But the very first seeds had been sown in the USA in 1946, when NFO (National Family Opinion) opened for business.

In the 60s, 70s and 80s, all these companies grew significantly, introducing a wide and increasingly sophisticated range of research solutions and using the latest technological developments. And as they and their clients grew, they started to create their international networks:

Sofres opened offices in six European countries, the US and 12 countries in Asia Pacific
 
Taylor Nelson and AGB each developed a UK network of offices and began to acquire businesses in Europe

NFO grew to become the by-word for managed access panels in the USA
It soon became clear that brands were becoming global, and brand owners would need global market information partners.

In the 1990s, the market research industry started to consolidate, as major clients demanded an increasingly international service.

NFO made a series of acquisitions around the world and the companies that now form TNS responded to the changing market by joining forces, enabling them to deliver consistently high quality services to customers around the world.

  • Sofres acquired Secodip (1992)
  • Taylor Nelson joined with AGB  (1992)
  • Sofres combined with FSA (1995)
  • Sofres acquired Intersearch (1997)
  • Taylor Nelson AGB and Sofres merged (1997)
  • TNS acquired NFO (2003)

More
 
http://www.tnsglobal.com/
http://www.tnsglobal.com/investor-relations/news/news-E4DA1FFE67594CB6A72742C5A415BD1B.aspx
http://blog.compete.com/2008/03/03/tns-acquires-compete/
http://www.compete.com/
http://www.competeinc.com/
http://blog.compete.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/03/tns-buys-compete-for-75-million/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/compete
http://www.quantcast.com/
http://www.alexa.com/
http://www.comscore.com/
http://www.thealarmclock.com/mt/archives/2007/08/compete_ups_ant.html
http://www.competeinc.com/news_events/pressReleases/114/
http://blog.compete.com/2008/02/11/press-release-compete-celebrates-fifth-straight-year-of-record-growth/
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-compete-bought-by-tns-for-up-to-150-million/
http://www.centernetworks.com/tns-acquires-compete
http://www.thealarmclock.com/mt/archives/2007/08/compete_ups_ant.html
http://www.centernetworks.com/ask-partners-with-compete-binoculars
http://www.techconfidential.com/money-out/blog/money-out/british-market-research-firm-t.php
http://blog.arhg.net/2008/03/competecom-bought-for-75m.html
http://mashable.com/2008/03/03/compete-acquired/
http://searchengineland.com/080303-105153.php

The Washington Post Company acquired CourseAdvisor.com

The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO) has acquired the education site CourseAdvisor.com, which is an online lead generator serving the education industry. However, the financial details and terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

The Wakefield, MA.-based company matches up students with suitable degree or certificate-granting programs across 800 institutions. CourseAdvisor founder and CEO Greg Titus was formerly the head of online education firm Acadient. The Washington Post Company is also the owner of education services firm Kaplan, which is an educational prep service and hence the synergy to justify the acquisition. Kaplan is already among those institutions listed as a potential for match using CourseAdvisor’s search wizard.

The company is known to have raised $12 million investment, which was the company’s first institutional round of financing. The investment was led by ABS Capital Partners, a leading private equity firm focused on investing in established and profitable growth companies, and The Washington Post Company. The money was then said to be used to fund the Company’s continued rapid growth by increasing investment in its sales force and strengthening its balance sheet. As a result of the financing, Deric Emry, a General Partner at ABS Capital, joined CourseAdvisor’s Board of Directors. Ralph Terkowitz, also a General Partner at ABS Capital and Caroline Little, chief executive officer and publisher of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive (WPNI), will serve as observers on the Company’s Board of Directors.

The company was founded in 2004 and is basically an online research directory for postsecondary education, career training, and professional development. We offer more than 7,000 programs through nearly 500 accredited colleges, career schools, training centers, and universities.

With over 1.5 million unique visitors per month, CourseAdvisor has become a leading online education directory (OED). The Company has significant technological advantages which enable it to manage complex search campaigns to source high quality leads. Since all site visits are generated from paid and organic search, each visitor is actively seeking information about colleges, universities and career and professional training. In addition, the Company’s advanced technology platform with superior filtering capabilities offers student profiling, geo-targeting and multi-stage data verification to maximize lead quality for CourseAdvisor’s customers.

Search CourseAdvisor for:

  • Online and Campus Degrees
  • Professional Diploma and Certificate Programs
  • Nursing and Allied Health Schools
  • IT Training
  • Business Degrees
  • Online Master’s in Education
  • Criminal Justice and Homeland Security

The CourseAdvisor Approach
CourseAdvisor’s objective is to be a useful, effective resource for furthering your education and enriching your life. We work hard to make researching higher education easy. Our guided search Wizard finds only those programs that meet your interests, requirements, and qualifications. The basic information you provide helps us connect you with the schools that can best serve you.

Our unique advantage is our team of education, technology, social sciences, and Internet experts. We continually research career fields and employment trends and actively seek out schools that offer exciting new programs in the fastest-growing fields.

We also develop our own custom search technologies to help you find the best opportunities in your chosen career. More than 2 million students visit CourseAdvisor every month! Think of CourseAdvisor as a search engine that runs in both directions… we make it easier for students and schools to find each other.

CourseAdvisor is located in Wakefield, Massachusetts and is now an independent subsidiary of The Washington Post Company since October 11, 2007.

CourseAdvisor.com claims it attracts over 1.5 million unique visitors per month, but a quick look into Quantcast reveals much better numbers – Courseadvisor.com is a top 1,000 site that reaches over 2.8 million U.S. monthly uniques.

The market

Competitors include GlobalScholar, SmartThinking, Tutor.com, and TutorVista.

GlobalScholar, by the way, has today announced a $27 million B Round from existing investors Ignition Partners and Knowledge Universe Education. This is on top of a previously undisclosed $15.5 million A Round the company raised early last year. Board members include Ignition’s Brad Silverberg and former Drugstore.com CEO Peter Neupert.

In conjunction with the investment round, GlobalScholar is also announcing that it has acquired Excelsior Software for an undisclosed amount (although it was less than half the total money raised). Excelsior makes student assessment software used by teachers in 1,000 school districts nationwide. GlobalScholar said it will be adding the Excelsior’s business to its existing Web-based tutoring platform, which it launched quietly last fall.

About ABS Capital Partners

ABS Capital Partners is a private equity firm that was founded in 1990 to invest in mid- to later-stage growth companies in order to create significant, market-leading companies. The firm’s investment strategy focuses on companies in the business services, health care, technology and media & communications sectors. ABS partners with strong management teams to help build businesses with substantial revenues, near-term profitability and solid customer bases. The firm has created long-term value for management and investors. ABS leverages over 100 years of combined investing and operating experience among its partners and provides a range of investment structures, including expansion financing, management buyouts and recapitalizations. With an extensive history and knowledge of equity and mergers & acquisitions markets, ABS Capital provides strategic guidance and helps companies to capitalize on their business opportunities. ABS has $1.5 billion under management and nine investing partners within offices in Baltimore, San Francisco and Boston. Over the past fifteen years, ABS has invested in over 70 portfolio companies, including American Public Education, Inc., DoubleClick, Inc., NeuStar, Inc., Rosetta Stone, Inc. and Vibrant Media, Inc..

About the Washington Post Company

The Washington Post Company (NYSE:WPO) is a diversified education and media company whose principal operations include educational and career services, newspaper and magazine publishing, television broadcasting, cable television systems and electronic information services. The Company owns The Washington Post; Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive (WPNI), the online publishing subsidiary whose flagship products include washingtonpost.com, Newsweek.com, Slate, BudgetTravel.com and Sprig.com; Express; El Tiempo Latino; The Gazette and Southern Maryland newspapers; The Herald (Everett, WA); Newsweek magazine; Post-Newsweek Stations (Detroit, Houston, Miami, Orlando, San Antonio and Jacksonville); Cable ONE, serving subscribers in midwestern, western and southern states; and CourseAdvisor, an online lead generation provider. The Company also owns Kaplan, Inc., a leading international provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. The Company has an ownership interests in the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service and Bowater Mersey Paper Company.

More

http://courseadvisor.com/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-washington-post-acquires-lead-generator-courseadvisorcom/
http://corporate.courseadvisor.com/archive/press_11_06.php
http://mashable.com/2007/10/11/washington-post-courseadvisor/
http://www.abscapital.com
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/30/globalscholar-raises-27-million-b-round-to-tackle-online-education/
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/fashion/31CYBER.html?ex=1359522000&en=7e55fe77d4377379&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink
http://www.washpostco.com/company-profile.htm
http://finance.google.com/finance?q=NYSE:WPO

Microsoft bets on enterprise search, offers to buy Fast.no for $1.2B

In what’s Microsoft’s second largest deal for the past 12 months the company offered to buy Fast Search & Transfer ASA, a leading provider of enterprise search solutions based in Norway. Details are as follows: Microsoft Corp. today announced that it will make an offer to acquire Fast Search & Transfer ASA (OSE: “FAST”), a leading provider of enterprise search solutions, through a cash tender offer for 19.00 Norwegian kroner (NOK) per share. This offer represents a 42 percent premium to the closing share price on Jan. 4, 2008 (the last trading day prior to this announcement), and values the fully diluted equity of FAST at 6.6 billion NOK (or approximately $1.2 billion U.S.).

FAST’s board of directors has unanimously recommended that its shareholders accept the offer. In addition, shareholders representing in aggregate 35 percent of the outstanding shares, including FAST’s two largest institutional shareholders, Orkla ASA and Hermes Focus Asset Management Europe, have irrevocably undertaken to accept the offer. The transaction is expected to be completed in the second quarter of calendar year 2008.

FAST has over 3500 enterprise clients, including heavyweights like Disney, The Washington Post, AutoTrader.com, and LexisNexis. According to Mary-Jo Foley from ZDNet, we should pay attention to how Microsoft will integrate FAST into their SharePoint Server. “Remember what Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said about SharePoint last year: He characterized SharePoint as the next big operating system from Microsoft,” she writes. “More and more, it’s looking like enterprise search functionality is one of the biggest reasons why.”

“Enterprise search is becoming an indispensable tool to businesses of all sizes, helping people find, use and share critical business information quickly,” said Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division. “Until now organizations have been forced to choose between powerful, high-end search technologies or more mainstream, infrastructure solutions. The combination of Microsoft and FAST gives customers a new choice: a single vendor with solutions that span the full range of customer needs.”

The companies possess a number of complementary strengths that advance a shared vision for helping businesses deliver information worker productivity and improved business results. FAST has a deep talent pool and is respected throughout the technology industry for its expertise in best-in-class, high-end search solutions. Microsoft offers worldwide customer reach and an extensive partner network, and is the recognized leader in business productivity with the popular Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, which combines search with best-in-class collaboration, business intelligence, portal and content management capabilities.

“This acquisition gives FAST an exciting way to spread our cutting-edge search technologies and innovations to more and more organizations across the world,” said John Lervik, CEO of FAST. “By joining Microsoft, we can benefit from the momentum behind the SharePoint business productivity platform to really empower a broader set of users through Microsoft’s strong sales and marketing network. It validates FAST’s momentum and leadership in enterprise search.”

In addition to bolstering Microsoft’s enterprise search efforts, this acquisition increases Microsoft’s research and development presence in Europe, complementing existing research teams in Cambridge, England, and Copenhagen, Denmark, with new and significant capabilities in Norway.

The offer will be subject to customary terms and conditions, including receipt of acceptances representing more than 90 percent of FAST shares and voting power on a fully diluted basis, and receipt of all necessary regulatory approvals on terms acceptable to Microsoft. The complete details of the offer, including all terms and conditions, will be contained in the offer document, which is expected to be sent to FAST shareholders during the week of Jan. 14, 2008. The offer will not be made in any jurisdiction in which the making of the offer would not be in compliance with the laws of such jurisdiction.

Larry Dignan, also from ZDNet, thinks this will lead the rest of the industry to consolidate the same way the advertising industry has been. “Until now organizations have been forced to choose between powerful, high-end search technologies or more mainstream, infrastructure solutions. The combination of Microsoft and FAST gives customers a new choice: a single vendor with solutions that span the full range of customer needs,” said Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft’s Business Division.

More about FAST

FAST, which was founded in 1997, creates the real-time search and business intelligence solutions that are behind the scenes at the world’s best-known companies with the most demanding information challenges. FAST’s flexible and scalable integrated technology platform and personalized portal connects users, regardless of medium, to the relevant information they need.

FAST is headquartered in Norway and is publicly traded under the ticker symbol ‘FAST’ on the Oslo Stock Exchange. The FAST Group operates globally with presence in Europe, the United States, Asia, Australia, the Americas, and the Middle East. For further information about FAST, please visit http://www.fast.no/.

FAST’s Business is Enterprise Search. Since they have set up their company in Norway back in 1997, they have grown rapidly to become a global organization with offices across six continents. FAST is said to be the forefront of search technology and it knows how to do the heavy lifting, as they claim. 
 
Execution excellence
With over 3500 installations, many at Fortune 500 and Global 2000 companies, we have an illustrious pedigree. These blue-chip companies rely on us to help them achieve their business goals and they are loyal. If you ask our customers why they remain loyal, they will probably tell you how we exceed their expectations, provide an unparalleled level of service and show a demonstrable return on their investment. In many cases we have fundamentally contributed to their success.

In 2005 independent evaluations of our support organization gave us a 98% satisfaction rating. We get tested quarterly. In 2005 we delivered more than 300 successful customer projects on schedule and within budget. We also ran over 100 Search Best Practices workshops across the world with extremely positive feedback. It helps that more than 60% of our work force are engineers and that close to 50 of our engineers have PhDs in relevant fields. They enable us to meet complex needs by delivering simplicity.

Financial strength
We are the market leader in Enterprise Search and number one in revenue growth. We have no debt. We have been profitable, exceeding our projections, for every quarter during the last 4 years. And we have made these profits while investing a quarter of our income back into R&D. Performance like this gives us the freedom to invest in innovation and win on value and financial return.

Partner power
Partners give us the ability to deliver total solutions and our FAST X 10 partner program plays a major role in our success. We have over 90 Systems Integrators and VARs on board, and over 30 OEMs embedding our search technology. We have also certified close to 1000 developers in FAST University, drawing on our best-of-breed approach to partnering. Quantity is less important than quality, of course. We only pursue a partnership if there is a mutually beneficial, lasting opportunity.

Global presence
We have been a globally minded company, with a global outlook, since our inception. Maybe it is because of our Norwegian roots. In fact, soon after we opened our doors we established an office in the United States. We now have offices in 6 continents and development centers in 4 of them. Our products support close to 80 different languages.

John M. Lervik, Ph.D., serves as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and is a co-founder of FAST. Dr. Lervik served as the Company’s Chief Technology Officer from 1997 to September 2001 overlooking all of the company research and product development activities. Dr. Lervik holds a Ph.D. from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and was awarded the best overall PhD at NTNU in 1996/97.

Other co-founders of FAST are Mr. Thomas Joseph Fussell, who was a co-founder of Fast Search & Transfer ASA and has served as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors since June 1997 and was Managing Director in 2000 and Mr. Robert Napier Keith, co-founded Fast Search & Transfer ASA and has served as Executive Director since June 1997.

Some people think this is a brilliant acquisition for Microsoft. Gartner says that Microsoft is struggling in this (already crowded) market. FAST is recognized as an industry-leader, along with Autonomy, Endeca, ZyLab, among others. 

The other thing to keep in mind is Microsoft’s biggest bet, which is its DYNAMICS (ERP/CRM) division. Because Business Objects was acquired by SAP, Microsoft possibly became more compelled to make an acquisition. Enterprise Search is going to be an absolutely massive component of ERP in the coming years, and this is a market that is strategic for Microsoft.

Fast.no seems to have some issues with its Board of Directors. More information enclosed below.

The conduct of Fast’s directors has been the subject of much comment in Norway. In Jan 2006 a article ran in the Norwegian IT paper that claimed that one of FAST’s directors Tomas Fussel had made a 2000% markup for himself by buying a loss making company Hercules communications and selling it to the public company Fast 3 weeks later for a massive mark up.

More recently there has been controversy at the board level with one director resigning and another making public statements about other directors and major shareholders. Fast’s board member Robert Keith said in a newspaper interview, “I ought to have seen the problems in Fast earlier. And I ought to have understood that Hans Gude Gudesen is a crazy liar. Also, I ought to have shot Oystein Stray Spetalen the first time I met him. That would have helped a lot of people, says the controversial Brit to the paper [Finansavisen].” Spetalen and Hans Gude Gudesen are both major shareholders in Fast. Furthermore directors Keith and Fussel are allegedly being pursued by the Norwegian tax authorities for $50M in unpaid taxes the government says it is owed by them. In the event of non payment liability may fall on the company. I should have shot Spetalen.

The ongoing turmoil has seen 3 directors resign from the board in the last month, the latest being Johan Fredrik Odfjell who is quoted in the company’s release as saying `FAST faces many challenges and opportunities going forward’

On December the 22nd Orka FAST’s largest shareholder demanded an EGM to force Fussel and Keith off the board

Need to Restate Accounts for 2006 and 2007

On the 12th of December 2007 Oslo Bors suspended trading of FAST shares. The next morning the company announced it was reviewing the accounting utilized for the 2006 and 2007 reports with a likely outcome that this would be changed. In an article titled “Fast restates its accounts” http://www.dagensit.no stated that Fasts results for 2006 and 2007 may be restated in what it called ”another clean up round.” It also stated “The Search technology vendor Fast Search & Transfer have had several rounds with restating of accounts. Also after CFO Joseph Lacson some months ago declared that “everything is cleaned up” one has found skeletons in the closet. Wednesday afternoon trading was suspended, after what the stock exchange called “certain conditions”.

Earlier last year FAST has acquired AgentArts, a San Francisco-based technology company with a personalization and recommendation engine for music, video, games and mobile entertainment. AgentArts clients include Infospace Mobile, Telstra Big Pond, Telstra Mobile, and Unipier. FAST said will add the technology to its enterprise search products, which will allow users to see the relationships between content and get recommendations for similar content based on their search patterns. It also includes a social recommendation feature, which helps users discover similar content based on patterns of other users with similar interests.

Although Fast Search & Transfer’s core business is widely known to be enterprise search, in 2007 the company seems to have sharply turned towards online advertising and search monetization, which seems the Web’s 2007 trend anyways, everybody is trying to become an ad company, platform or network. 

Also late last year (2007) FAST, which may be a company best known for specializing in site search, has launched a product platform that is looking to socialize the ecommerce storefront search function. It’s called FAST Recommendations and it is based on offering product recommendations similar to those of Amazon.com, but with a social twist.

If some of the information above proves to be true then this is a major, and in time, exit for the FAST’s shareholders.

More

http://www.fastsearch.com/
http://www.fast.no 
http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2008/jan08/01-08FastSearchPR.mspx
http://www.forbes.com/prnewswire/feeds/prnewswire/2008/01/08/prnewswire200801080443PR_NEWS_USPR_____AQTU104.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/08/microsoft-has-announced-a-takeover-bid-for-fast-search-transfer-priced-at-12-billion/
http://mashable.com/2008/01/08/microsoft-to-acquire-fast-search-transfer/
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/microsoft_fast_takeover.php
http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=1085
http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=7518
http://www.microsoft.com/enterprisesearch/serverproducts/searchserverexpress/default.aspx
 

After Last.fm, Wallstrip CBS has now acquired Dotspotter

Online gossip site Dotspotter has been acquired by CBS for $10 million. In Digg style Dotspotter lets users offer up celebrity news, video clips, images, articles and sightings for your leisurely enjoyment. You can vote up the ones you like and vote down the ones you hate.

After acquiring Last.fm for $280M CBS president Leslie Moonves laid out an online marketing strategy, which most likely includes the current acquisition. As Valleywag pointed out Dotspotter’s short one-year lifespan didn’t scare off serial charmer Quincy Smith, the startup-mad head of CBS Interactive. Earlier CBS has also bought the financial video blog Wallstrip. Sources also claim that one of Dotspotter’s beneficiaries is Facebook CFO Gideon Yu.

According to Quantcast the site is getting less than 600,000 American unique visitors per month. Compete is reporting for pretty much the same number of visitors. At the time the deal was announced (Oct 2006) the site had only 280,000 users a month according to Compete. This compared to the 3.6 million for TMZ and 1.5 million for PerezHilton, perhaps the most popular entertainment blog.

The company is founded by Anthony Soohoo, who is a former Yahoo exec.  It would appear that Anthony Soohoo made the right choice by leaving Yahoo back in March 2006.

The price seems pretty high for a sector which is crowded with more high profile celebrity blogs/sites like TMZ.com, PerezHilton, and others as well as the fact that the site has only been launched mid-January last year. Online sources close to the situation tell the price is not for the site itself, but the team that has built it. Structured this way the deal may also include a heavy earn-out component.

CBS has launched celebrity news before like the site Showbuzz in June 2006, but things did not go any further. CBS also produces two celebrity tabloid shows The Insider and ET.

At the end of the day it appears as a nice exit for the investors since the site is said to have only raised seed money from angels and the amount is rumored to be less than $1M. Gideon Yu is one of the investors, along with couple of other angels.

More about Dotspotter

Dotspotter is a new way to explore and enjoy pop culture. We’re the community that lets users discover, share and talk about the people, places and ideas that are defining what’s hot and happening. People use Dotspotter to find the latest scoops, gab with their friends, share celebrity sightings and cast their votes on the pop culture topics that they care about.

People join for many different reasons. Whether you want to try your skills at breaking celebrity gossip (you know, bring out your inner paparazzi!) or you just want to have fun socializing with others, Dotspotter members can do it all. And the best part is that joining Dotspotter is absolutely FREE. All that’s needed to join Dotspotter is a valid email address. Once you register, join the topics that interest you and connect with people like you who have a passion for all things pop culture!

Dotspotter is made up of many different and interesting people with a common interest centered on pop culture entertainment. Join in the discussions, participate in the community and make new friends.

About CBS Interactive

As the online extension of America’s most-watched network, CBS Interactive enhances the viewer experience with best-of-breed content from some of the biggest brands in television across multiple platforms.

CBS has partnered with a collection of leading next-generation companies to create the CBS Audience Network, the web’s first and largest professional video content network, delivering reach and targeting capabilities to our advertisers. The result… the best lineup of full-length and short-form clips from CBS, CSTV and Showtime are now available to over 140 million uniques per month reaching 89% of the Web. Some of the online brands include: CBSSports.com, NCAASports.com, CBSNews.com, TheShowbuzz.com, Wallstrip, CBS.com, STARTREK.COM, Last.fm, CBS Audience Network, CBS Games and CBS Mobile.

Oddly but Dotspotter does not appear as a stand alone online destination/brand.

More

http://www.dotspotter.com
http://www.cbs.com/
http://valleywag.com/tech/acquisitions/cbs-eyes-gossip-site-for-10-million-309047.php
http://mashable.com/2007/10/10/cbs-dotspotter/
http://www.quantcast.com/dotspotter.com
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/dotspotter.com/?metric=uv
http://www.thealarmclock.com/mt/archives/2007/10/pink_pop_cultur.html
http://blogs.business2.com/startups/2007/06/thousands-of-ma.html
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-cbs-buys-a-year-old-celebrity-gossip-blog-dotspotter-price-around-10-mi/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2007/10/cbs-buys-celeb-.html
http://www.cbscorporation.com/
http://www.cbsdigitalmedia.com/

Google bought Jaiku, instead of Twitter

Finnish short messaging and microblogging service Jaiku has been acquired by Google. 
Notable fact here is the fact that Google bought Jaiku instead of its competitor Twitter, a service founded by Blogger founder Evan Williams.

We think a possible reason of that situation could be the current overvaluation of Titter.  Jaiku may also be better on the mobile platform than Twitter.

Technology has made staying in touch with your friends and family both easier and harder: living a fast-paced, on-the-go lifestyle is easier (and a lot of fun), but it’s more difficult to keep track of everyone when they’re running around at warp speed.

That’s why, Google said, we’re excited to announce that we’ve acquired Jaiku, a company that’s been hard at work developing useful and innovative applications for staying in touch with the people you care about most — regardless of whether you’re at a computer or on a mobile phone.

Google has lately been rolling out a number of very young mobile services. Interesting fact from the past of Google is yet another acquisition of very similar company called Dodgeball that went literally no where. 

RedMonk analyst James Governor, who has blogged extensively about the business value of Jaiku competitor Twitter has some interesting thoughts on the news. Governor says he’d like to see RIM buy Twitter but thinks Yahoo! is much more likely. He says the Jaiku mobile download could be a key addition to the Google Phone kernel but fears that all the leading microblogging services will be quickly overrun with commercial messages. Perhaps that is the commercial future of the microblogging services.

At the time of the deal took place Twitter was full with conversation on the acquisition, according the tracking service Twitterverse, the hottest word across Twitter in the last hour is Jaiku.

With easy group creation, RSS import and threaded conversation, amongst other features, Jaiku is probably a superior service to Twitter. Creation of new accounts have been stopped at Jaiku with news of the announcement.

More about Jaiku

Jaiku’s main goal is to bring people closer together by enabling them to share their activity streams. An activity stream is a log of everyday things as they happen: your status messages, recommendations, events you’re attending, photos you’ve taken – anything you post directly to Jaiku or add using Web feeds. We offer a way to connect with the people you care about by sharing your activities with them on the Web, IM, and SMS – as well as through a slew of cool third-party applications built by other developers using our API.

The most powerful instrument of social peripheral vision is your mobile phone. We’ve put in a special effort to create Jaiku Mobile, a live phonebook that displays the activity streams, availability, and location of your Jaiku contacts right in your phone contact list. We modestly believe it is the best solution out there for seeing what your friends are up to. Currently Jaiku Mobile is available for phones based on the Nokia S60 software platform.

To learn more about Jaiku, this video interview may be found insightful and interesting. It is done by the new European outfit Intruders.tv with company founder Jyri Engestrom, trained as a sociologist and formerly from Nokia.

Jaiku’s founders have commented on the home page of their site on the acquisition.

While it’s too soon to comment on specific plans, we look forward to working with our new friends at Google over the coming months to expand in ways we hope you’ll find interesting and useful. Our engineers are excited to be working together and enthusiastic developers lead to great innovation. We look forward to accomplishing great things together. In order to focus on innovation instead of scaling, we have decided to close new user sign-ups for now.

But fear not, all our Jaiku services will stay running the way you are used to and you will be able to invite your friends to Jaiku.

More

http://jaiku.com/
http://jaiku.com/blog
http://google.com/
http://www.jaiku.com/blog/2007/10/09/were-joining-google/
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_acquires_jaiku.php
http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/10/reach-out-and-message-someone.html
http://jaiku.com/help/google
http://us.intruders.tv/Essential-Web-07-Interview-with-Jaiku-co-founder-Jyri-Engestrom_a93.html
http://twitterverse.com/
 

Two major acquisition deals within the online storage space

IBM today announced it has acquired XIV, a privately-held storage technology company based in Tel Aviv, Israel. XIV, its technologies and employees, will become part of the IBM System Storage business unit of the IBM Systems and Technology Group. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed but sources tell the price was $350M. 

XIV’s main product Nextra is a storage system based on a grid of standard hardware components. XIV will become part of the IBM System Storage business unit of the IBM Systems and Technology Group. XIV was established in 2002 by five graduates from the 14th class of the Israeli Army’s elite “Talpiot” program where the name XIV coming from. It’s the Roman numeral for 14. The company got only $3 million in backing thus far, making this deal a fairly huge exit for the founders.

“The acquisition of XIV will further strengthen the IBM infrastructure portfolio long term and put IBM in the best position to address emerging storage opportunities like Web 2.0 applications, digital archives and digital media,” said Andy Monshaw, general manager, IBM System Storage. “The ability for almost anyone to create digital content at any time has accelerated the need for a whole new way of applying infrastructure solutions to the new world of digital information.  IBM’s goal is to provide the leading technologies and solutions at every layer of the data center – storage, servers, software and services – to address these new realities IT customers face.” 

“We are pleased to become a significant part of the IBM family, allowing for our unique storage architecture, our engineers and our storage industry experience to be part of IBM’s overall storage business,” said Moshe Yanai, chairman, XIV.  “We believe the level of technological innovation achieved by our development team is unparalleled in the storage industry.  Combining our architectural advancements with IBM’s world-wide research, sales, service, manufacturing, and distribution capabilities will provide us with the ability to have these technologies tackle the emerging Web 2.0 technology needs and reach every corner of the world.”

The NEXTRA architecture has been in production for more than two years, with more than four petabytes of capacity being used by customers today. 

IBM’s acquisition of XIV supports the IBM growth strategy and capital allocation model, as part of the company’s overall objective for earnings-per-share growth through 2010.

XIV is led by Moshe Yanai, one of the key architects of data storage systems and instrumental in the development of EMC’s Symmetrix and DMX product lines throughout the 1990s.

Which brings us to the question why EMC did not buy XIV but that was done by IBM? EMC instead has acquired the online storage startup Mozy, headquartered in Utah. EMC Corporation itself is a public storage company. EMC has paid $76 million for the company, according to web sources.

“Mozy’s technology and online delivery model has proven itself to be one of the industry’s most admired offerings for customers looking to safely and cost-effectively backup and recover their digital information stored on desktops, laptops, and remote office servers,” said Tom Heiser, EMC SVP, Corporate Development and New Ventures. “The acquisition of Mozy is a natural extension of EMC’s leadership in the protection and security of personal and business information. We will continue to invest in Mozy’s full portfolio of online backup and recovery services and advance the Mozy brand in the marketplace.”

“I have been researching and developing internet-scale storage and information management solutions throughout my career,” said Josh Coates, founder and former CEO of Berkeley Data Systems. “EMC and Berkeley Data Systems are a natural fit, and I’m confident that EMC is the right organization to take Mozy to the next level. I look forward to working with EMC to continue innovating in the storage and information management industry.”

The company has basically a very simple way for users to back up their computer hard drives online. You need to download their software and the backups occur slowly over time. Mozy supports both Windows and Mac machines.

Mozy has raised just $1.9 million in venture capital, which is less than the $3M XIV has raised but the XIV’s exit sale is much larger by contrast. The round, closed in May 2005, was led by Wasatch Ventures, with participation from Tim Draper of Draper Associates and Draper, Fisher, Jurvetson and Novell co-founder Drew Major. Mozy was created by Berkeley Data Systems, which is a technology company based in Utah that specializes in large scale, parallel storage systems and software.

There were rumors circulating some time ago that Mozy was close to being acquired by Google for significantly less than this. The company eventually passed on the deal, which must have been a tough call. They clearly made the right choice in waiting.

About EMC Corporation

EMC Corporation is the world’s leading developer and provider of information infrastructure technology and solutions. We help organizations of every size around the world keep their most essential digital information protected, secure, and continuously available. We are among the 10 most valuable IT product companies in the world. We are driven to perform, to partner, to execute. We go about our jobs with a passion for delivering results that exceed our customers’ expectations for quality, service, innovation, and interaction. We pride ourselves on doing what’s right and on putting our customers’ best interests first. We lead change and change to lead. We are devoted to advancing our people, customers, industry, and community. We say what we mean and do what we say. We are EMC, where information lives. EMC Corporation has nearly $40 billion market cap. EMC is listed on the NYSE (NYSE: EMC).

About IBM System Storage business

IBM is a market leader in the storage industry. Innovative technology, open standards, excellent performance, a broad portfolio of storage proven software, hardware and solutions offerings – all backed by IBM with its recognized e-business on demand(r) leadership are just a few of the reasons why you should consider IBM storage offerings. Through its deep industry expertise, patent leadership, research and innovation, IBM has long been the leader in providing customers with technology solutions that help them deliver and utilize information effectively.  With industry recognized leadership in storage and server hardware and software, and through the recent strategic acquisitions of Softek, FileNet and NovusCG, IBM has grown its storage services offerings and presents customers with strategic solutions to deliver integrated software, hardware, services and research in standardized offerings that can be used by customers of all sizes to help them transform their businesses.  

Competition

Other online storage companies include: Amazon’s S3 (Simple Storage Service), Cnet’s All you can Upload, AllMyData, Box.neteSnips, Freepository, GoDaddy, iStorage, MofileOmnidrive, Openomy, Streamload, Strongspace, iBackup, Zingee, Xdrive and Carbonite, which is known to have raised $21 million in venture financing.

It is also rumored that Google is planning to launch gDrive. Microsoft is also jumping into the same bandwagon and more information can be found over here. Zmanda is an open source back up solution as well.

The online storage space is hugely overpopulated and crowded area. Who is next? A comparison chart over some of the companies above can be found over here: http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=93730415&size=o

Our basic conclusion is that both XIV and Mozy have made very impressive exit deals taking into consideration the small amount of funding they both have taken so far.

More

http://www.mozy.com/
http://mozy.com/blog
http://mozy.com/news/releases
http://www.xivstorage.com/
http://www.xivstorage.com/company/company_news.asp 
http://www.emc.com/
http://www.emc.com/about/
http://www.ibm.com/storage
http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/storage/index.html
http://crunchbase.com/company/mozy
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/01/31/the-online-storage-gang/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/03/ibm-acquires-storage-company-xiv-for-350-million/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/03/benchmark-europe-invests-in-uk-gambling-site/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/carbonite
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/01/31/the-online-storage-gang/
http://avc.blogs.com/a_vc/2005/12/online_backups_.html
http://jeremiahthewebprophet.blogspot.com/2006/05/online-data-storage-companies-ongoing.html
http://www.microsoft-watch.com/article2/0,1995,1951237,00.asp?kc=MWRSS02129TX1K0000535
http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,1934589,00.asp
http://sftechsessions.com/2006/06/june-online-storage/
http://c2web.blogspot.com/2006/01/carbonite-online-photo-backup.html
http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=93730415&size=o
http://www.storagesearch.com
http://ptech.wsj.com/archive/ptech-20061214.html
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/products/2007-10-30-tech-backup_N.htm
http://draperandassociates.com/
http://www.dfj.com/

Naspers acquires yet another European company – Tradus

Simply put a fallen dot com star with eBay ambitious, once worth more than 2B British pound (around $4B) and collapsed down to £62M at the end of 2000 is now being basically said rescued by a South African media company that is spending money at breakneck pace. The offered price is £946M (more than $1.8B) based on just £60M annual revenues.

A month after Naspers acquired the Polish chat site Gadu Gadu for roughly $155M the media company from RSA is now making a major acquisition step in Europe. Naspers bid to buy the European online auction site Tradus for £946M. Naspers valued Tradus at nearly $2 Billion, which is 26.7% higher than the average share price during Naspers’ most recent half-year.

Some analysts compared the Naspers deal with the deal of eBay for Skype in 2005 – in other words overpaying for the purpose of its own expansion. With this deal Naspers said it is going to switch focus from operations on only ad-supported Web businesses to transaction-based e-commerce services.

In focusing on Internet expansion, Naspers has established a new company called MIH Internet, which operates under its Myriad International Holdings division. This makes sense for MIH to handle the acquisition of Tradus, as MIH already dabbles in emerging markets on a global scale, including M-Web and Tencent, among others.

Tradus, previously known as QXL Ricardo, has backed an £18-a-share offer from Africa’s largest media company, the owner of the Daily Sun newspaper and the pay-TV firm Multichoice, as part of its strategy for Internet expansion. The deal represents a 19 per cent premium on Tradus’s price of 1,510p a share, when the company first announced it was in takeover discussions on 6 November, and comes amid a renewed interest in online companies.

Tradus conducts online auctions across 12 European countries, mostly Eastern Europe. It was founded by a former Financial Times journalist, Tim Jackson, in 1997 and, after listing on the stock market in 1999, its value soared to £2 Billion in early 2000 on hopes it would become the European eBay. But just eight months later, it was worth only £62M as Internet stocks crashed.

Cobus Stofberg, Naspers’ chief executive, said: “The operations of the Naspers Group and Tradus complement each other perfectly, and significant advantages can be obtained by aligning Tradus’s businesses with Naspers’ other internet investments in Central and Eastern Europe.”

The deal, due to be completed by March, requires approval from Tradus shareholders, but the board has recommended investors accept the offer. Shares in the FTSE 250-listed group rose 12 per cent to £18.15.

Tradus was the subject of a failed takeover battle in 2005 between members of its management team and the consortium Florissant, backed by the UK private equity firm Novator.

Tradus’s pre-tax profits rose 28 per cent to £7.7M on revenues of £30.6M in the six months to the end of September.

An extremely positive deal for Tradus’ shareholders, the purchase is less obviously so for Naspers’. It earns three-quarters of its revenues in South Africa but is expanding at breakneck pace in China, Russia and other emerging markets. Tradus will complement its geographic reach, with a market-leading business in Poland. The lack, though, of operational overlap means no synergies are expected. And there must be suspicion that Naspers is overly keen to spend its $1.5Billion cash pile, two-thirds of which is offshore and must be spent before the year end or repatriated.

Admittedly, others share its optimism over Tradus’ prospects. Citi, even in these difficult days, is providing £700M of bridging finance. But Naspers’ shareholders seem warier this time around. The shares fell slightly after the deal was announced, suggesting a fear that the days of overpaying for internet companies with uncertain future revenues are not necessarily over.

In September 2007 QXL Ricardo (Tradus) has bought a 30 percent stake in Molotok.ru, an online auction site in Russia, for a relatively small sum of $1.5 million. The remaining 70 percent of the site is be owned by Russian portal Mail.ru

The company was known to be in deal talks, and there had been speculation that eBay and Alibaba.com were both interested in acquiring the Eastern Europe-focused site.

More about Tradus

Tradus provides online consumer trading platforms and related internet services in eleven European countries. These platforms connect buyers and sellers 24 hours a day, seven days a week in a safe, efficient, and entertaining environment. A wide selection of merchandise and services is available on our sites, ranging from consumer electronics and collectibles to clothing, lifestyle products, cars, car parts and real estate.

Tradus plc, formerly QXL Ricardo PLC, was established in September 1997 and its shares have been quoted on the London Stock Exchange since October 1999. Although the corporate headquarters are in London, most of the operations are located in our key countries across Europe, with the majority of staff being based in Poznan, Poland where our largest business is based. At the end of March 2007 there were over 400 employees in the Group, most of whom are dedicated customer service staff ensuring that the needs of our growing member base are met.

About Naspers

Naspers is a multinational media company with principal operations in electronic media (including pay-television, internet and instant-messaging subscriber platforms and the provision of related technologies) and print media (including the publishing, distribution and printing of magazines, newspapers and books, and the provision of private education services). Naspers’ most significant operations are located in South Africa, where it generates approximately 76.4% of its revenues, with other operations located elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, Greece, Cyprus, the Netherlands, the United States, Thailand and China. Naspers creates media content, builds brand names around it, and manages the platforms distributing the content. Naspers delivers its content in a variety of forms and through a variety of channels, including television platforms, internet services, newspapers, magazines and books. Many of Naspers’ businesses hold leading market positions, and Naspers capitalises on these strong positions when expanding into new markets.

As a side note early this year Naspers announced voluntary delisting from NASDAQ and instead Naspers Limited Received Listing Approval for London Stock Exchange. Naspers is listed on the stock exchange in Johannesburg and up to date stock quote can be found over here: http://stocks.us.reuters.com/stocks/overview.asp?symbol=NPNJn.J

With the current acquisition Naspers is hoping to expand its instant messaging services beyond what it already owns in the sector. Naspers operates local IM/online services in Russia (Mail.ru), China (Tencent) and Thailand (M-Web/Sanook).

The company is headquartered in Cape Town, RSA. 

More

http://www.qxl.com/
http://www.qxl.com/investor_centre
http://www.naspers.com/English/home.asp
http://news.independent.co.uk/business/news/article3263632.ece
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/1/da97695c-ad4b-11dc-9386-0000779fd2ac.html
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-tradus-auction-site-agrees-2-billion-takeover-by-south-africas-naspers/
http://mashable.com/2007/12/18/naspers-acquires-tradus/
http://www.paidcontent.co.uk/entry/419-online-auctioneer-qxl-ricardo-to-sell-to-naspers-for-up-to-800-report/
http://www.paidcontent.co.uk/entry/eurpean-company-qxl-ricardo-takes-30-percent-stake-in-russian-auction-site
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/23/naspers-acquired-polish-based-im-company-gadu-gadu-chit-chat/
http://www.telecom.paper.nl/site/news_ta.asp?type=abstract&id=196998&nr=
http://www.tradus.com/news-item?item=56416543336883
 http://biz.yahoo.com/ic/56/56312.html

MSNBC made its first acquisition in its 11-year history, acquired Newsvine

In a recent deal the citizen journalism startup Newsvine has been acquired by MSNBC, the Microsoft/NBC joint venture, for an undisclosed sum.

Newsvine will continue operating independently, just as it has been since launching in March of 2006. The acquired company also indicated there would be little change in the features of the site. 

Newsvine is one of the good CJ [Citizen Journalism] web sites. Others include Digg, Reddit and Netscpae’s Propeller among others. Newsvine is a good example of a startup CJ site aimed to be a mainstream news destination in the future. Along with most of the other current CJ sites, Newsvine uses many of the ‘web 2.0’ functionalities in its design – such as user-generated content, reputation, voting, comments, friends lists, tags, and more. Newsvine was among the first sites on web to implement basic semantic tagging based on the content submitted. The first site, as far as we know, was NosyJoe.com with its intelligent tagging engine.  It allows users to ‘seed’ stories, by adding a link and short description. Users can also write a full article as well. Newsvine is arguably more advanced in its design than other CJ sites, often trying new things and design techniques – e.g. the Newsvine, a color-coded visual representation of a user’s impact on the site.

The site opened as a private beta in December 2005 and was officially launched on March 1, 2006. Newsvine CEO is Mike Davidson and the company is based in Seattle which is the home of MSNBC too. Calvin Tang is the Co-founder and COO. More details about Newsvine can be found below.

“Over the next few years, Newsvine technology and content will make its way onto msnbc.com, and vice-versa where it makes sense.” Davidson explained further.

Newsvine officially became part of MSNBC on Friday, October 5th, but Davidson said they’d “been talking since May.” The company will continue to be based in Seattle, perhaps due to the location of the MSNBC too.

What is MSNBC getting, anyway? Mostly the citizen journalism community and features combined with some basic (compared to MSNBC’s) traffic but representing a very loyal community. From our perspective this deal looks more like acquiring technologies, features and mostly practical experience from the citizen journalism and the social news sector. It could also be an employment through acquisition. Basically Newsvine successfully established and positioned itself especially within the social news arena yet the site cannot be clearly identified as a popular site with its only 1.2M unique visitors per month. So, MSNBC is clearly trying to tap into the social news space and is buying experience.

The following statement from the company supports out thinking:

“While Newsvine may be well known in early adopter circles, we want every college student, every farmer, every weekend journalist, and every household to have their own branch on the “Vine”.

Davidson, the Newsvine’s CEO has explained the reason why he sold out to MSNBC.
It seems it is all about scale and partnering with bigger media company to achieve that:

“Why would a young, efficient independent news startup become part of a large organization? For us, the answer is simple: it’s all about growing the community and spreading the idea of participatory news as far and wide as possible. Although going from zero to over a million users a month in less than two years is heartening, msnbc.com operates on another scale entirely. While Newsvine may be well known in early adopter circles, we want every college student, every farmer, every weekend journalist, and every household to have their own branch on the ‘Vine. In order to spread this idea further, we could have gone out and raised a lot of money, quadrupled our staff, and gone it alone, but when one of the finest news organizations in the world is headquartered right across Lake Washington, the potential of partnering with such a great team is dramatic. We feel strongly that we can learn from the successes of their experienced team, in a way that will empower Newsvine to become the worldwide mouthpiece of the citizen journalist.”

This is the MSNBC’s first acquisition in its 11-year history and is a good fit for MSNBC.com. Newsvine will report directly to the Publisher/President of MSNBC.com.

Neither of the companies would disclose terms of the all-cash transaction, but deals for other social media sites have ranged as high as the $75 million that eBay was reported to have spent for StumbleUpon.com, which claims about 3 times the number of users as Newsvine.

It appears as Newsvine will move to the server farms of MSNBC.com to allow for greater reliability and expansion.

Reach

Back in July 2007 the stat numbers were reported by the founder Mike Davidson, to be in about 1.2 million unique visitors per month and Newsvine has grown at an average rate of 46% per quarter. Newsvine community members view an average of 21 pages per day and spend an average of 143 minutes per month on the site. The site gets about 80,000 comments a month and 250,000 votes a month.

Where the site stands at today?

Quantcast is reporting for slightly over 260,000 unique visitors per month but Newsvine is not quantified there. Compete on the other side is reporting for 409,000 unique visitors.  Both sites are reporting on only the American traffic.

In details about Newsvine

Newsvine is a website consisting of community-driven news stories and opinions. Users write articles and save links to external content, vote, comment and chat on article pages created by both users and by professional journalists.

Seattle-based “Newsvine, Inc.” was incorporated in March of 2005 by Calvin Tang. Mike Davidson, Lance Anderson and Mark Budos subsequently left The Walt Disney Internet Group and together began development of Newsvine during the summer of 2005, as the four co-founders of the company. Josh Yockey joined the company shortly after development began, with Tom Laramee following in the spring of 2006. Eric Glomstad joined as an intern over the summer of 2006 and has stayed on with the company since. The development team consists of several veterans from the Disney Internet Group and ESPN. Mike Davidson, CEO of Newsvine Inc. was interviewed in episode 8 of Leo Laporte and Amber MacArthur’s weekly Inside the Net podcast.

Community

Newsvine is a community-driven news site similar to sites such as Slashdot, reddit and Digg. It combines user submission of information with items from the Associated Press and provides each user with a blog-style “column” for writing their own ‘posts’.
Features
 
Seeding
Newsvine allows users to “seed,” or post links for others to view. Seeds usually contain a short description or direct quotation from the linked article. With the “Newsvine Button,” users can select “Seed Newsvine” from their bookmarks and a seeding dialog will appear. Seeds allow for all of the same options as articles except the ability to insert photographs.

Articles
One of the most defining features of Newsvine is the ability for users to write their own articles. Commonly known as citizen journalism, this allows for users to express their opinions for public disccusion or even report in a journalistic manner. The most popular articles for top tags appear in the “Featured Writers” section, where article writers can receive extra publicity.

While writing articles, users are also given the ability to upload their own photographs or choose from a list of Flickr photos registered under a Creative Commons license for addition to the post. Captions can be written as well to clarify the meaning of the photograph.

Voting
Another common feature among social bookmarking websites is the ability to vote for content. Users who enjoy reading an article/seed or agree with its content are encouraged to vote for the content. Articles and seeds with the most votes appear in the “Top Wire,” “Top Seeds,” or “Top of the Vine” sections of the site.

Newsvine also allows for users to vote for comments that they enjoyed reading. This aspect of commenting encourages better content and friendly discussions. When a comment receives at least five votes, a green star is placed in the upper right-hand corner, signifying that many users enjoyed or agreed with the comment. Clicking the star will lead viewers to the next highly rated comment.

Negative votes are also registered, and a comment that receives too many negative votes will often be collapsed, so that it can only be viewed by deliberately opening it. This limits discussion under that comment, since new comments under it will not be seen automatically.

Commenting
The ability to comment on seeds and articles allows for extra discussions regarding the content to take place. While debates are welcome, useless, insulting, and self-promoting comments are not. If a comment receives enough reports, that comment will be collapsed and its contents can only be shown by choosing to expand it. The Newsvine comment system also allows for threaded comments, easing the confusion of comment direction. While users do not yet have the ability to edit or delete their own comments, writers are allowed to delete comments on their own content. Unregistered users are also allowed to have their say, but comments by unregistered users are not made public until that user creates a registered account.

User Columns
Newsvine user columns give users the ability to manage and share their articles, seeds, friends, recommendations, and other statistical information. Every user has one, and each is given their own subdomain to access it (<user>.newsvine.com). User columns are customizable: aspects of the layouts can be moved or hidden, a user photo and biography can be added, a header (such as a welcome message) can be added, friends can be invited to Newsvine or added to your friends list, recommendations (such as favorite books, bands, blogs, etc.) can be shown, and comments and feedback from other users can be managed. Also, through user columns, members have the ability to add others to their watchlist and friend list or to send another a chat invitation.

Earnings
Newsvine tells users that they will receive 90% of ad revenue from ads on their personal Newsvine pages. These earnings are “based on traffic to your articles and seeds,” but it is unclear exactly how Newsvine calculate earnings. The remaining 10% go to whoever referred the user to Newsvine, or for site maintenance if there was no referrer. Newsvine does not publish the amount of revenue that has so far gone to users.

Chat Lobby
The Chat Lobby is a section of Newsvine that manages the various chat rooms available or open. Every article or seed on Newsvine has the ability to have a chat room created for it, where users can discuss the subject matter real-time rather than posting a comment. While this feature is not often used, the capability is there for those users that want to participate in a discussion.

Watchlist
If a user finds a particular writer or tag that he/she enjoys to read content from, it can be added to the Watchlist. Watchlists are lists of members and tags that a user can compile to easily find interesting news. Items on a user’s watchlist appear on the left column and, if there is content that the user has not read by a watchlisted author or tag, a number will appear next to the item name signifying how many articles or seeds have not been read.

Conversation Tracker
Much like the Watchlist, the Conversation Tracker allows users to track other members. However, the Conversation Tracker is a notifier of new comments. There are three sections to the Conversation Tracker: new comments from a user’s Newsvine column, new comments from articles that a user has commented on, and new comments from an article a user’s friend has commented on. If a user has added members to the friend list that share a common interest in content, the Conversation Tracker can act as a list of recommended articles.

Friends List
The Friends List gives users the ability to meet new people and find others with common interests, but there are no requirements in doing so. Creating a populated friends list gives users the ability to find interesting new articles through the Conversation Tracker. Once a user adds a friend to the list, the added friend receives a notification and is given the ability to accept or decline the offer.

Vineacity

Vineacity is a measure of six different elements that contribute to a Newsvine user’s overall rating as a positive influence to the Newsvine community. Earned as ‘branches’ on a Newsvine logo icon displayed next to the user’s name, the six areas of excellence include:

  • Courtesy – Earned when a user’s positive feedback outweighs any abuse reports they may have received.
  • Longevity – Earned when the users has been active for at least two months after registering.
  • Fruitfulness – Earned when the user has submitted a substantial amount of content or comments that have received votes.
  • Connectedness – Earned when the user appears on a substantial number of watch-lists and/or friend-lists.
  • Random Act of Vineness – Earned for an exceptional moment of greatness on Newsvine.
  • Lifetime achievement – Earned when a user has received a combined number of votes on all articles, links and comments around Newsvine.

 Newsvine is known to have had only 6 employees at the time the deal was announced.

About MSNBC

MSNBC.com is a privately run news organization started by Microsoft and NBC in 1996. The site is one of the most decorated, highly trafficked news sites on the web, serving more than 29 million unique visitors per month. Contrary to popular belief, msnbc.com is run independently from both Microsoft and NBC and even the MSNBC news channel. It is its own organization, headquartered in Redmond, and has been growing and profitable for several years now. MSNBC.com employs about 200 people.

More

http://www.newsvine.com/
http://www.newsvine.com/_cms/info/companyinfo
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21138371
http://blog.newsvine.com/
http://blog.newsvine.com/_news/2007/10/07/1008889-msnbccom-acquires-newsvine
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/newsvine_acquired_by_msnbc.php
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/the_state_of_citizen_journalism_pt1_newsvine.php
http://www.centernetworks.com/future-of-web-apps-mike-davidson
http://www.centernetworks.com/newsvine-acquired-msnbc
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newsvine
http://www.calvintang.com/blog/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/07/breaking-newsvine-acquired-by-msnbccom/
http://www.mikeindustries.com/blog/archive/2007/10/msnbc.com-acquires-newsvine
http://www.fimoculous.com/archive/post-3267.cfm
http://tang.newsvine.com/_news/2007/10/07/1008988-the-future-of-newsvine-and-what-it-means-to-you
http://www.quantcast.com/newsvine.com
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/newsvine.com/?metric=uv
http://www.zoominfo.com/Search/CompanyDetail.aspx?CompanyID=98714299&cs=QHF4kK7Uk&pc=compete

Naspers Acquired Polish based IM Company Gadu Gadu (chit-chat)

South Africa’s biggest media group Naspers Ltd offered to buy all outstanding shares in Polish Internet firm Gadu Gadu S.A. (GADU.WA), a Polish IM service, for 23.50 zlotys ($8.77) per share. The current majority shareholder of Gadu Gadu has agreed to tender its 55% shareholding in the public tender offer. In order to gain 100% acceptance of this tender offer the total investment will amount to around $155 million. Gadu Gadu (GG) is listed on the Warsaw stock exchange (Poland), and Naspers will launch a public offer to buy the shares. As a side note Poland became a European Union member in early 2004.  Poland is the EU’s fifth most populous country with 38 million inhabitants, exhibiting fast growth in the penetration of broadband connectivity, usage of the internet and online internet advertising.

Gadu Gadu is one of Poland’s largest instant messaging companies, with millions of unique users, mainly in Poland, and a 43% share of the Polish market. It also has a social network mojageneracja, which has just under million uniques. Gadu Gadu is one of the many entrants for the instant messaging market. Should Naspers get this public tender offer, it will be adding to its global reach, especially in Europe, where it’s somewhat less influential than some of the other countries it has a presence in.

Gadu-Gadu stands for “chit-chat” in Polish and is commonly known as GG or gg and is a Polish instant messaging client.

Gadu-Gadu runs under Windows 98/2000/Me/XP/2003/Vista and is operating under the license of adware. Gadu-Gadu makes money by displaying advertisements. Just like with ICQ, users are identified by their serial numbers. There are numerous add-ons available to provide extra features. The official version provides over 150 smiley icons, and allows off-line messages, data dispatch, and VoIP. Since version 6.0, an experimental SSL secure connection mode can be used.

One of the most popular features of Gadu-Gadu is the status option, allowing users to display short text messages visible under their buddy icons on other users’ contact lists. Gadu-Gadu uses its own proprietary protocol. Many unofficial plug-ins have been created to expand its capabilities. Even though Gadu-Gadu service provider officially forbids to access the network with 3rd party applications (changes in use Terms and Conditions introduced in 2006), several other instant messengers have the ability to communicate with GG protocol such as:

  • Kadu, an open-source instant messenger similar to Gadu-Gadu (Linux/Macintosh)
  • Tlen.pl, a Polish instant messenger (Windows)
  • Miranda IM (Windows)
  • Adium (Macintosh)
  • Proteus (Macintosh)
  • Pidgin / Finch (multi-platform)
  • Kopete (multi-platform)
  • AmiGG (AmigaOS and MorphOS)
  • EKG (Linux/Macintosh) console client
  • GNU Gadu (Linux/Macintosh)

Gadu-Gadu is the most popular IM in Poland. There are over 7.8 million registered accounts, and every day approximately 6.5 million users are online.

Many users consider the latest version too overloaded by unnecessary addons (Gadu-Gadu Radio Station etc.), so the older versions (especially 6.1 build 158) are still as popular as the new one. However, the new version is generally regarded as being much more stable.

Gadu Gadu S.A. was established in 2000.

About Naspers

Naspers is a multinational media company with principal operations in electronic media (including pay-television, internet and instant-messaging subscriber platforms and the provision of related technologies) and print media (including the publishing, distribution and printing of magazines, newspapers and books, and the provision of private education services). Naspers’ most significant operations are located in South Africa, where it generates approximately 76.4% of its revenues, with other operations located elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, Greece, Cyprus, the Netherlands, the United States, Thailand and China. Naspers creates media content, builds brand names around it, and manages the platforms distributing the content. Naspers delivers its content in a variety of forms and through a variety of channels, including television platforms, internet services, newspapers, magazines and books. Many of Naspers’ businesses hold leading market positions, and Naspers capitalises on these strong positions when expanding into new markets.

As a side note early this year Naspers announced voluntary delisting from NASDAQ and instead Naspers Limited Received Listing Approval for London Stock Exchange. Naspers is listed on the stock exchange in Johannesburg and up to date stock quote can be found over here: http://stocks.us.reuters.com/stocks/overview.asp?symbol=NPNJn.J

With the current acquisition Naspers is hoping to expand its instant messaging services beyond what it already owns in the sector. Naspers operates local IM/online services in Russia (Mail.ru), China (Tencent) and Thailand (M-Web/Sanook).

The company is headquartered in Cape Town, RSA. 

More

http://www.gadu-gadu.pl/
http://www.naspers.co.za/pdfs/press_04_october_2007.pdf
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-south-africas-naspers-offers-to-buy-polish-im-service-gadu-gadu-for-155/
http://mashable.com/2007/10/04/naspers-gadu-gadu/
http://www.naspers.com/English/home.asp
http://www.reuters.com/article/mergersNews/idUSWEB835920071004
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gadu-Gadu
http://finance.paidcontent.org/paidcontent?GUID=3379356&Page=MediaViewer&Ticker=NPSN
http://stocks.us.reuters.com/stocks/overview.asp?symbol=GADU.WA

Adobe Systems Acquires Buzzword, a web-based word processing software

Adobe Systems has acquired Virtual Ubiquity, the parent company of the Buzzword web-based word processing software.

Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Virtual Ubiquity and its ground-breaking online word processor, Buzzword. The acquisition furthers Adobe’s commitment to foster a vibrant ecosystem for rich Internet application (RIA) development that delivers breakthrough experiences built on Adobe AIR. Separately, Adobe added a new file sharing service to its current online document services. Codenamed “Share,” the beta service will make it easier than ever for people to share, publish and organize documents online.

Virtual Ubiquity is based in Waltham, Massachusetts. The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close by the end of November 2007. The addition of Virtual Ubiquity is not expected to have a material impact to Adobe revenue and earnings in fiscal year 2007.

Virtual Ubiquity had taken funding from Adobe’s venture capital group. At this point there is no disclosure on the size of the buy-out.

One may ask why? Well, Buzzword is built using Adobe Flex and runs in the Adobe Flash Player, making it a logical fit for the software company. Additionally, users can use Buzzword both online and offline using Adobe AIR. Much like Google Docs and Zoho, Buzzword also includes features for collaboration and sharing documents.

Buzzword, an elegant online word processor, enables individuals to work together to create high quality, page perfect documents. Because it was built with Adobe Flex™ software and runs in the Adobe Flash™ Player, Buzzword enables greater document quality, outstanding typography, page layout controls, and robust support for integrated graphics, regardless of the browser or device. The application also will run on Adobe® AIR™, offering users a hybrid online/offline experience and the ability to work with both hosted and local documents. The powerful collaboration capabilities in Buzzword enable multiple authors to edit and comment on documents from anywhere, at anytime, while document creators can set permissions that virtually eliminate version control chaos. For more information on the acquisition and access to Buzzword beta software, please visit http://www.adobe.com/go/buzzwordfaq.

Buzzword is a stunning achievement in design. Of all the PC-compatible word processors available — including the desktop dinosaur Microsoft Word — Buzzword is the easiest on the eyes and has the most elegant user interface.

The founders of the company will be joining Adobe as part of the deal.

So, is this an employment through acquisition? It could also be a well planned, funded and executed internal deal in the domain of the PR for Adobe in order to promote, proclaim and popularize its new products as Adobe Flex software, Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR, all trademarks owned by Adobe Systems Incorporated.

The deal comes in moment when the company announced the launch of the new Adobe Flash Player.

Via

[ http://www.buzzword.com/ ]
[ http://www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/pressroom…/100107VirtualUbiquity.html ]
[ http://mashable.com/2007/10/01/adobe-buzzword/ ]
[ http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer/ ]
[ http://www.adobe.com/go/buzzwordfaq ]
[ http://about.buzzword.com/ ]
[ http://reviews.zdnet.co.uk/software/productivity/0,1000001108,39289750,00.htm ]
[ http://www.thealarmclock.com/mt/archives/2007/10/adobe_buys_web.html ]