VeriSign Inc. announced a $30 million buyout of content aggregation and distribution specialists Moreover Technologies on Tuesday in an effort to increase its presence in the market for business-to-business information management and delivery services.
The deal, which was rumored to be in the works for over a week, represents Mountain View, Calif.-based VeriSigns growing investment outside of its core businesses, which revolve primarily around Web site validation, managed security and networking and telecommunications services.
Moreover, which is based in San Francisco and London, will join with Weblogs.com, which VeriSign acquired in early October for $2.3 million, as part of VeriSigns Real-Time Publisher Services unit, focused on emerging content management and delivery applications.
For its part, Moreover currently claims to aggregate content from some 12,000 news sites and millions of individual blogs generated across 126 countries in 25 different languages.
Combined with Weblogs, which collects information on a wide number of blogs as they are updated, VeriSign said it will now have the ability to catalogue and publish nearly all of the sites distributing news content on the Internet.
Moreover utilizes a content tagging system with more than 30 metadata tags and 380 categories to deliver large volumes of real-time content articles and boasts some well-known customers such as Microsoft Corp.s MSN network, InterActiveCorps AskJeeves search engine, and the BBC (British Broadcasting Co.).
Other companies use the technology to gather real-time information about specific market and business trends.
In addition to the acquired companies technology and content, VeriSign has added significant expertise in the information distribution arena by adding all 35 staffers at Moreover, and Weblogs.com Founder David Winer, who helped develop the widely-used RSS (Really Simple Syndication) system for Web syndication.
VeriSign also operates its own "ping service infrastructure," which automatically notifies subscribers when new content is posted to a Web site or blog.
By combining the various assets, along with other technologies such as supply chain automation applications, VeriSign executives said the company can become a provider of broad content management, delivery and so-called "Internet intelligence" services.
Mark McLaughlin, general manager of VeriSigns Naming and Directory Services business, said that the larger market, which he calls the "real-time Web" space, will offer a wide range of opportunities to companies that can offer diverse infrastructure services to businesses.
"With these acquisitions, we now have a majority of the pings on the real-time Web, a majority of the news sources, and a large proportion of all the blogs covered, as far as source content is concerned," said McLaughlin.
"Its still pretty early in terms of the applications that will make use of all these capabilities, but we feel that were in a position to establish ourselves as the market grows."
The executive said that the combination of Moreovers intelligent aggregation tools with Weblogs and the ping infrastructure will allow the company to offer business services such as Web site metrics tracking, and real-time RSS feed delivery.
Another example, using the supply chain software, is automatically alerting customers to potential problems via RSS technology.
VeriSign also operates its domain name registration services and RFID (radio-frequency identification) network, which the firm will look to integrate with the real-time Web capabilities, he said.
McLaughlin said that VeriSign isnt likely to make additional acquisitions in the content delivery and management business this year, and said the company has no plans to launch any consumer-oriented services.
"We want to be in the business of providing real-time relevant information to businesses, people can create huge productivity gains when they can harness that power," said McLaughlin.
"Its hard to say what the killer applications might be, but we think that weve got a pretty robust roadmap based on the pieces weve acquired."
Despite the apparent novelty of the expertise and technologies being aligned by VeriSign, at least one industry watcher observed that staking a claim in the content management space is no easy task in todays market for the tools.
With massive companies such as IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp. and EMC Corp. bringing content management technologies to market, it will be harder for smaller players to compete and differentiate, said Robert Lerner, analyst with Current Analysis, Sterling, Va.
"Everybody is trying to get into some form of content management, and customer needs are growing, so, not surprising to see these guys trying to get involved," said Lerner.
"VeriSign will bring its own components to the table, but it wont be an easy market to enter as the technology out there is already mature."
Lerner compared the existing content management space to the market for enterprise portal technologies five years ago, where a number of smaller players were competing with larger vendors who eventually bought them or beat out their technologies.
"It sounds like theyre putting together an interesting picture, but the onus is on VeriSign to demonstrate their case versus the major players," he said.
"The longer VeriSign takes to get their act together and get an integrated series of products on the market, the tougher it will be to gain a foothold."