Centra Pushes on After Failed Merger

By Dennis Callaghan  |  Posted 2002-04-15

Centra Software Inc. is adding capabilities for collaboration, content management and content authoring built on a common framework to its CentraOne e-learning platform.

CentraOne 6.0 includes search and knowledge management capabilities that help users find learning materials or organization expertise.

"Its a lot easier to do a search now," said Mark Eggers, manager of online learning at Wyndham International Inc. The hotel chain uses CentraOne for employee training and conferencing at more than 200 properties nationwide and runs 25- to 35-employee events with the software weekly.

"You can search for events, search by keywords. I really like that feature," said Eggers, in Dallas.

Centra 6.0s debut last week came less than a week after Centra, of Lexington, Mass., announced that its merger agreement with SmartForce plc. was terminated. The companies broke off the deal after both issued warnings of falling revenues and rising losses for the first quarter. Falling stock prices of the two companies had cut the value of the deal by more than half.

When the deal was announced in January, it was valued at $284 million. Since then, SmartForces stock price has plummeted to less than $7 per share, which would have made the deal worth more than $75 million.

Greg Priest, chairman and CEO of SmartForce, said in a letter to customers published on the SmartForce Web site that both companies needed to focus on improving their bottom-line results.

"Were clearly disappointed that the merger will not be happening," said Priest, in Redwood City, Calif. "We continue to believe that there is a strong strategic fit between the companies, but stepping away now lets us focus fully on the things we need to do within SmartForce."

Eggers said he doesnt expect the failed merger to have much of an effect on the Centra technology. The companies will resell and co-market each others offerings instead. In fact, CentraOne 6.0 includes some SmartForce e-learning content. "It seems like a win-win situation from our standpoint," he said. "Theyre still going to be sharing some technology. Im not sure if were going to see any difference."

Eggers said he isnt worried about Centra remaining viable without a larger company to acquire it—though Wall Street analysts do expect other suitors, such as SkillSoft Corp.—to emerge.

"You read a lot; a lot of things can happen in technology. Im not concerned at all," Eggers said.

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