Magazine article Information Today

Geac/CLSI: Data Research/Inlex: What's Happening?

Magazine article Information Today

Geac/CLSI: Data Research/Inlex: What's Happening?

Article excerpt

The Geac/CLSI purchase in early December 1992, came as a total surprise to me. In my January column here, I characterized the move as "inredible" and remain "dumbfounded."

According to Harrison Cheung, of Geac's Corporate Communications office, the deal was almost serendipitous. As quoted in American Libraries (January 1993, p. 9), Cheung pointed to a number of "complementary aspects of the deal": CLSI has been a traditionally public library vendor with a record of strong circulation capabilities; Geac, on the other hand, is a popular system in academic libraries with an emphasis on serials and cataloging modules.

Indeed, Joe Mathews, well-known library consultant and now vice president for international business at Data Research Associates (DRA), thought maybe the purchase was even an inevitable one. He should know: he put in a stint at Geac in Canada a few years back.

The merger will probably spell the end of CLSI as a company. It was founded in 1971, filed for bankruptcy in 1979, and rebounded to number one in sales by 1985, at which time it was purchased by TBG (formerly Thyssen-Bornemisza, a multi-national corporation which counted annual revenues in excess of 1.7 billion).

Things were looking good for CLSI for a while. But in the past three years alone, there have been four presidents. One of them was well-known library consultant Robert Walton. He had a number of ambitious plans for CLSI (including a high-tone advertising campaign). But he left in October 1992 and now serves as an executive officer at Innovative Interfaces.

Speculating on Walton's departure and the subsequent hiring of James Hofbauer to the position of president and CEO, Library Systems Newsletter (LSN) wondered aloud in its November 1992 issue: "Is [CLSI] in trouble? Is the company's product functionally competitive? What are the risks if the company ceases to develop and support the product?"

After a lenghty analysis of CLSI's positioning in the library market niche, LSN concluded that "we remain hopeful that this venerable company will once again rise to the challenge."

Bad news for LSN. Overheard at the Geac booth (which was able to reposition at the final moment right behind CLSI in the exhibit area at ALA Midwinter): "Take a good look at the CLSI booth. That's the last time you're gonna see it at ALA." And that came from somebody on the Geac payroll who'd probably know what's planned.

DRA and Inlex

Well, if Mathews thought that the Geac/CLSI link was inevitable, do we make the same assumption about the DRA/Inlex connection? In late January, Mathews' present company (DRA) signed a Letter of Intent for the purchase of the library automation systems and other related assets of Inlex (a company where Mathews also served as vice president. My don't they all get around!).

There were rumors at Midwinter that Inlex was going bankrupt. But presumably, at the same time, DRA and Inlex were busy negotiating behind closed doors somewhere in Denver.

And that's not all DRA's been doing. It has also signed a Letter of Intent to purchase the Starlite Library Management System and certain related assets of Praxa Ltd. In a single stroke of the pen, DRA would add 38 libraries in Australia and Indonesia to its customer base. That's an addition to the 10 it gains through the Inlex purchase.

Within only a year's time, the library automation marketplace has changed significantly. AmeriTech purchased NOTIS and Dynix [and earlier OCLC's Local Systems]; Geac purchased CLSI; and DRA, both INLEX and Starlite. Dare we ask what's next? …

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