Consolidation Continues with Stellent, iPhrase Moves

Natural language search software developer iPhrase announced the acquisition of text classification software developer Banter, while Stellent snapped up fellow content management software company Optika.

Consolidation in the software industry is off to a roaring start in 2004 with two more acquisitions announced Monday.

Natural language search software developer iPhrase Technologies Inc. announced the acquisition of text classification software developer Banter Systems Inc. while Stellent Inc. snapped up fellow content management software company Optika Inc.

iPhrase bought Banter in an all-stock transaction. Terms between the two privately held companies were not disclosed. The move gives iPhrase, of Cambridge, Mass., Banters classification technology, which is used to make sense of unstructured content, particularly that used in communications such as e-mail and instant messaging.

"Its a perfect fit," said iPhrase Chairman and CEO Dan Keshian. "Theres nothing that we do that overlaps with their technology."

iPhrase expects to become more of a customer service software player with the acquisition, as the company seeks to extend its technology from customer interactions on Web sites to e-mail, chat, Web forms and surveys, company officials said.

iPhrase plans to maintain OEM relationships that Banter had with CRM (customer relationship management) developers such as Siebel Systems Inc., Kana Software Inc. and Ayaya Communications, officials said.

Stellent is acquiring Optika in a combined cash and stock deal worth nearly $60 million. Stellent plans to integrate Optikas Acorde product line with its own Universal Content Management Architecture, which would boost Stellents support for managing content related to specific business processes such as accounts payable, claims processing and expense reporting, Optikas specialty.

Optika is particularly strong in the retail, distribution, architecture/engineering/construction and higher education verticals, according to officials at Stellent.

Product lines will be initially integrated via Web services, but will eventually share the same content repository, Stellent officials said. The combined company will have more than 3,500 customers and a $100 million revenue run rate.

Optika President and CEO Mark Ruport will join Stellent as an executive vice president. Stellent is based in Eden Prairie, Minn., and Optika is in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The deal, which is still subject to shareholder approval, is due to close in April.

Todays acquisitions follow acquisitions earlier this month in the CRM software space, as Kana bought Hipbone Inc., a developer of co-browsing, file sharing and chat software used in the financial industry; and customer self-service software developer LivePerson Inc. picked up Island Datas Express Response hosted knowledge base and FAQ service..