MSN Buys MessageCast for Real-Time Alerts

Microsoft acquires the company and its LiveMessage service, which connects with instant-messaging networks and RSS to send updates to users.

Microsoft has acquired a messaging startup known for a real-time alerting service that taps into instant-messaging networks and RSS feeds.

Microsoft Corp.s MSN division has purchased MessageCast Inc., an MSN spokeswoman confirmed. MSN is expected to formally announce the acquisition Wednesday night.

Since 2003, MSN has used MessageCasts technology as part of the MSN Alerts service. MSN Alerts lets users receive notifications from such sources as MSNBC, MSNs sites and through MSN Messenger, e-mail and mobile devices.

"Integrating the company and its technology into MSN will create greater opportunities to extend MSN Alerts to new content channels," MSN product manager Karin Muskopf said in a statement. "We have worked with this company for the past 18 months and are excited about the opportunities acquiring the company presents."

MessageCast, of Redwood City, Calif., offers a service called LiveMessage, which delivers alerts by finding users on real-time networks, including major IM services such as MSN Messenger. LiveMessage then can send alerts as e-mails, IMs and RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds, so users can receive messages both on their desktops and on mobile devices.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about MessageCasts use of RSS for enterprise marketing.

The service, which requires users to opt in, had drawn about 350,000 subscribers as of February, according to an earlier MessageCast announcement. LiveMessage is delivering alerts about everything from Weblog and podcast updates to sports scores and marketing promotions.

MSN did not provide details about its plans for MessageCast or the LiveMessage service.

MessageCast officials directed requests for comment to MSN. The MessageCast Web site had been redirected to an MSN Web page that notified visitors of the acquisition.

MessageCast was formed in 2002 and is funded by Mobius Venture Capital. Along with Microsoft, its customers include FOX Sports, LOreal and Inc.

Earlier this year, news also began to spread that MessageCast was developing a keyword-based ad network for RSS. Advertising in RSS has gained increased attention, and both Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. have begun tests for placing sponsored links into RSS feeds.

MSN also has detailed its plans to enter the market for pay-per-click advertising later this year, a move that will pit it against Google and Yahoo.

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