RealTime IT News

Phone.com, Software.com Go Wire to Wire

Following their announced $6.8 billion merger, shares of both Phone.com and Software.com soared Wednesday, with Software.com climbing 32% and Phone.com up nearly 17%. The multibillion dollar merger marks a first mover mega-consolidation in the burgeoning wireless Internet market, and investors jubilantly cheered the marriage proposal.

The two wireless infrastructure players will each own approximately 50% of the combined entity, with recently departed Cisco Systems' Executive VP, Donald Listwin, taking the driver's seat at the wireless Web juggernaut as the newly appointed CEO. Listwin's departure from Cisco makes the deal even sweeter for giddy investors eager to speculate over his defection from the networking giant.

While Phone.com focuses on Web access for mobile devices via its WAP standard, Software.com targets the world of e-mail, voice, and fax communications. Software.com supplies large-scale messaging solutions to ISPs and global telecom carriers, enabling these providers to offers its millions of subscribers reliable e-mail and instant messaging communications.

Without too much noticeable overlap, the dynamic duo of Phone.com and Software.com bring to the table enormous opportunities in wireless infrastructure solutions. Enabling wireless applications from Internet access, to mobile e-mail and unified messaging, the as-yet-unnamed new entity enjoys an almost immediate dominating presence in the next phase of the Internet revolution - the World Wide Wireless Web.

Most Valuable Player?

In the private sector, high-profile MVP.com has set its sights on struggling outdoors gear e-tailer, PlanetOutdoors.com. Sports e-tailer, MVP.com, debuted just this past January, amidst all the bells and whistles accompanying its all-star backers, Michael Jordan, John Elway, and Wayne Gretzky. This acquisition finally ends the saga Boulder, Colorado-based PlanetOutdoors.com has been forced to endure since the market turned sour on profitless e-tailers early this year.

Caught in the crossfire, PlanetOutdoors found itself flatfooted when VC cash dried up overnight. To avoid becoming just another victim in the dot-com boneyard, its management team tightened the belt in May, sending 22 of its 100 employees to the bread lines. Besides cutting 20% of its workforce, PlanetOutdoors also eliminated all of its temp workers, independent contractors, as well as slashing marketing budgets.

The about-face appeared to do the trick, since less than two months later, the niche player successfully avoided becoming just another dot-com casualty. Seeing the writing on the wall that the current IPO market would spit out a solo contender like PlanetOutdoors, the e-tailer folded itself into the much more appealing MVP.com brand. Now that MVP.com has rescued the e-tailer from the brink, PlanetOutdoors' original VC investors, which include CMGI@Ventures, will pony up additional funding into the newly expanded MVP.com.

AltaVista Manifest Destiny

CMGI says it is looking for an ISP target acquisition to help boost traffic to its tired Web portal, AltaVista. Set to tap the public markets earlier this year, AltaVista had to withdraw its planned offering yet again after the Nasdaq's nosedive. The most recent on-again, off-again plans for AltaVista are only one in an ongoing soap opera of botched IPO attempts for the search portal, dating back to 1996.

AltaVista's sights are set on Europe, according to CMGI's European president Marcus Bicknell, who indicated that they're seeking a telecom or ISP acquisition in the UK, France, or Germany. As t