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Latitude Acquires Rich-Media Developer

Hoping to expand its online conferencing universe, Latitude Communications Thursday inked a deal to acquire Los Altos, Calif.-based development firm Wanadu.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Latitude, known for its MeetingPlace platform, said the acquisition is a key step in its strategy to build virtual conferencing products that combine voice, Web, video and instant messaging technologies. Wanadu develops PowerPoint-to-Flash content creation, management and delivery products.

Under the terms of the agreement, Latitude will acquire Wanadu's assets in exchange for cash and a percentage of future revenue from sales of Wanadu products in 2003. Specific numbers were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to close by early May 2003, pending SEC regulatory approval and other conditions.

Seven of Wanadu's marketing, sales and development employees in California have been hired to stay on with Latitude. In addition Latitude gets and a team of 15 Web development engineers outside the United States.

"We expect this acquisition to dramatically strengthen our Web collaboration offering and to be ideal for sales, marketing and training applications," Latitude CEO Rick McConnell said in a statement. "Additionally, Wanadu's overseas engineering team will substantially increase our ability to deliver leading web conferencing solutions without a commensurate increase in our development costs."

In a separate press release issued today, Latitude announced the availability of MeetingPlace Web 4.0, a fourth generation of its flagship Web conferencing product. The system also automates meeting scheduling and recording and other operations. Latitude provides support services such as consulting, implementation, and integration. Customers include Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, and Credit Suisse First Boston.

The latest version includes more than 60 new capabilities such as the ability to view presentations at any bandwidth connection; share and view any application in true color and pass control; and viewing a constantly updated list of who is sharing content, speaking and attending a meeting.

Latitude said it would incorporate Wanadu's technology in future MeetingPlace releases.

"Using Wanadu's enterprise PowerPoint-to-Flash products, our customers have seen a dramatic reduction in the time and money needed to produce and deliver rich-media content for the Web. It is exciting to have Latitude's expertise, talent and resources to make our solutions immediately available to a much larger market," said Wanadu CEO George Bolanos.