Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq “MSFT”) announced that it will make an offer to acquire Fast Search & Transfer ASA (OSE: “FAST”) 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 37 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. 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 capabilities in Norway. http://microsoft.com, http://www.fast.no/
I closed 2007 with some final takeaways from the Gilbane Conference and notes about semantic search. Already we are planning for Gilbane San Francisco and you are invited to participate. There is no question that enterprise search, in all its dimensions, will be a central theme of several sessions at the conference, June 17th through 19th. I will lead with a discussion in which a whole range of search topics, technologies and industry themes will be explored in a session featuring guest Steve Arnold, author of Google Version 2.0, The Calculating Predator. To complement the sessions, numerous search technology vendors will be present in the exhibit hall.
A most important conference component will be a highlight for conference goers, shared-experiences about selecting, implementing and engaging with search tools in the enterprise. Everyone wants to know what everyone else is doing, learning and what they know about enterprise search. You may want to present your experiences or those of your organization. If you are interested, considering presenting, know of a good case study, usability or “lessons learned” from implementing search technology, please raise your hand. You can do this by reaching out through this link to submit a proposal and make reference to the “enterprise search blog call for papers.” You can be sure I’ll follow-up soon to explore the options for you or a colleague to participate. This is a great opportunity to be part of a community of practitioners like you and attend a conference that always has substantive value for participants.
Leave it to Microsoft to end the year with a big announcement and open the next one with an even bigger one. We knew that the world of enterprise search was going to contract in terms of the number of established vendors, even though it is expanding in new and innovative offerings. Microsoft had to make a bold play in an industry where Google has been the biggest player on the WWW stage while reaching deeper into the enterprise, tickling at Microsoft’s decades-old hold on content creation and capture. So, with the acquisition of FAST Search & Transfer, whose technology may not be the best in the enterprise search market but is certainly the most widely deployed at the high-end, Microsoft opens with a direct challenge to its largest competitor.
Boy! Have the emails been flying this morning. At least I know there will be plenty of material to ponder in the next few weeks and months. P.S. Don’t miss the action in San Francisco!
In.vision Research and Trisoft have announced a partnership to integrate their products to meet the needs of content management and publishing for a variety of industries including telecom, high-tech, software, mechanical equipment and automotive. The In.vision and Trisoft partnership will use In.vision’s Xpress Author for Microsoft Word add-in to allow non-technical writers to create XML content in Word. When the non-technical writer saves the document into the Trisoft InfoShare Content Management System, technical writers will be able to incorporate the content into their documents with ease, and continue with the various review, translation, and publishing processes that InfoShare provides. http://www.tri-soft.com, http://www.invisionresearch.com
Mediasurface (UK, AIM: MSR) announced a new extension to its Morello web content management solution that adds benefits to allowing enterprise users to work together on content creation using MOSS 2007. The new Morello MOSS 2007 Connector makes it easier and quicker to find, organise and publish MOSS generated content through an enterprise web delivery infrastructure on one or more websites, intranets and extranets. Mediasurface addresses this with the new Morello MOSS Connector which integrates MOSS tools with Mediasurface’s Morello enterprise web content management solution. Automated processes keep information synchronized, ensuring that websites always display the very latest, approved version of a document whilst SharePoint users will always have direct access to information captured on the websites. In addition, the Morello MOSS 2007 Connector plugs into the generally available standard collaboration and communication services of SharePoint (called WSS), so there is no technical setup required. Users can collaborate, create and review documents, images and pages using familiar tools such as MS Word and Outlook. The connection to Morello helps ensure users know which MOSS generated content is approved for use, avoiding duplication and speeding up the publishing cycle. http://www.mediasurface.com