Divine Inc. Acquires Northern Light Technology LLC: The Company Adds Key Search Technology and Content to Its Extended Enterprise Solutions. (It Feature)

By Hane, Paula J. | Information Today, March 2002 | Go to article overview

Divine Inc. Acquires Northern Light Technology LLC: The Company Adds Key Search Technology and Content to Its Extended Enterprise Solutions. (It Feature)


Hane, Paula J., Information Today


In January, Chicago-based divine, Inc. (http://www.divine.com), a provider of integrated solutions to the enterprise market, announced that it had acquired Northern Light's enterprise search technology, e-commerce transaction engine, and premium content services in an all-stock transaction. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Not coincidentally, the news came just 2 weeks after Northern Light announced it was "refining its business focus" and discontinuing free Web searching at northernlight.com (see p. 1 of the February issue or http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb020114-1.htm). And a day after the acquisition announcement, divine and Yahoo!, Inc. announced an agreement to jointly offer the divine/Northern Light premium content to Yahoo! searchers.

In a conference call with press and industry analysts on January 22, divine CEO Andrew "Flip" Filipowski stressed the many advantages and synergies to be gained from the Northern Light acquisition. He said that Northern Light "filled in a strategic gap in our product line." He stated: "This combination of divine's existing content management and content aggregation solutions and Northern Light's vast collection of premium content offerings enables divine to offer information-rich solutions for portals, intranets, Web sites, and extranets, helping our customers gain a competitive edge."

Filipowski also pointed to the superiority of the Northern Light enterprise search technology and its taxonomy and automated categorization. He revealed that divine had tried to acquire NewsEdge some months back and was now relieved that the deal had failed (Thomson Corp. subsequently purchased NewsEdge) since the company now feels that Northern Light provides a better fit within divine's product line. According to Filipowski, when divine evaluated companies' taxonomy technologies, only Northern Light's platform provided real off-the-shelf implementation that is also automated and easy for enterprises to modify and extend. In fact, he said his company has already begun replacing Verity and Autonomy implementations within the divine product line with Northern Light's technology.

divine offers "extended enterprise solutions" in three areas: professional services (such as customer relationship management, business systems, and technology infrastructure), software services (collaboration, content management, and library acquisition and collection management), and managed services (managed hosting). divine focuses on Global 5000 and high-growth middle-market firms, government agencies, and educational institutions, and currently serves over 20,000 customers.

Northern Light Likes divine Intervention

The attraction for Northern Light to join the divine "family" is obvious: access to all those enterprise customers. Northern Light only had about 150 enterprise accounts. Northern Light CEO David Seuss calls this a terrific deal, since the hardest thing for a company to do is acquire a customer. Northern Light only had a sales force of 15 employees; divine has 300. Seuss said, "Not only do divine's existing technologies and solutions perfectly complement Northern Light, but its powerful distribution channel can bring the benefits of our integrated search and content technologies to a much wider audience around the world." Seuss stressed that companies that are in the business of just selling content will have trouble. He feels that an integrated content-technology solution is what the enterprise market needs.

Seuss, Northern Light chief technology officer Marc Krellenstein, and senior vice president of content development Robert Nelson all join divine in senior positions. Gregory Whitten, who was chief software architect of computer languages and office applications during his 19-year career at Microsoft Corp. and is a primary investor in Northern Light, will serve as a technology advisor to divine. About 80 percent of Northern Light's 171 employees will join divine, moving to a divine office facility in Burlington, Massachusetts. …

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