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VeriSign Buys Premium Messaging Company

If its Monday, VeriSign must be buying another mobile media company. A week after acquiring Kontiki, VeriSign has agreed to pay $250 million for m-Qube, a privately-held wireless content delivery firm with customers including CBS, major league baseball and Sony Pictures.

The deal is gives m-Qube an exit strategy with the domain name registrar. mCube had built up market share as a premium messaging and content service with more than 200 million wireless subscribers in North America.

The purchase complements recent acquisitions by VeriSign making "content convergence over any network and any device a reality," said Vernon Irvin, executive vice president and general manager, VeriSign Communications Services.

Based in Watertown, Mass., m-Qube creates mobile portals for companies ranging from CBS to Nickelodeon, along with mobile billing services for carriers. The company has 200 employees.

As broadband availability increases, VeriSign sees a new market developing distributing video and other content to cell phones, PCs and televisions connected to the Internet. "VeriSign is investing in building an intelligent infrastructure for operators, Internet portals, media companies and consumer brands to use to deliver content to all three screens," Irvin said in a statement last week.

Last week’s $62 million acquisition of Kontiki was viewed by the Mountain View, Calif.-based VeriSign as the cornerstone pulling together several mobile media company purchases. Kontiki’s Delivery Management System software employs individual Internet-connected PCs to act as a grid for delivering content, such as large video files. Like m-Qube, Kontiki had several well-known clients, including AOL and Verizon.

In February, VeriSign expanded its broadband media aspirations into Europe with the purchase of 3united, a wireless applications service provider based in Vienna Austria. The purchase gave VeriSign access to carriers in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Austria.

Today’s purchase is the largest since VeriSign bought two multimedia companies in 2005. The Internet infrastructure firm bought LightSurf for $270 million in stock a half-year after acquiring Berlin-based Jamba for $273 million.

LightSurf technology, letting users swap video and other multimedia, was integrated into VeriSign’s Intelligent Communications, Commerce and Content (IC3) platform, internetnews.com previously reported.

Jamba, a Berlin-based wireless content company, also melded into VeriSign’s IC3 platform.

VeriSign’s foray into digital content is an extension of its mission as an Internet company, said Jeff Treuhaft, senior vice president of digital content services for VeriSign in a telephone interview. Interest in video, music or other online content has gone "beyond being something people try," he said.