Instant Messaging Lures Another Big Name

Competition in the fast-growing instant messaging market got a little hotter Wednesday as CMGI Inc. Wednesday acquired Tribal Voice Inc., makers of the Pow Wow instant messaging client.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

CMGI also announced plans to merge Activerse, a communications software company it recently acquired, into Tribal Voice, forming a new unit that will focus on instant messaging tools to consumers and businesses. Development will continue on PowWow which will continue to target consumers. Technologies acquired in the Activerse purchase will form the core of new communications products for the enterprise market.

Activerse’s leading product is Ding!, which provides instant messaging and interactive collaboration capabilities to intranets and workgroups.

David Andonian, CMGI’s (CMGI) president of corporate development, said the company went after Tribal Voice because it believes instant messaging delivers on the Internet’s promise of dynamic interactivity.

“We see the need for market-specific technologies and the merger of these two properties will give us the best of both worlds — meeting both consumer and enterprise demands for real-time communications,” he said.

“The integration of Tribal Voice’s real-time communications tools will help facilitate communication and build cohesion among CMGI’s many Web users, Web sites and Web access platforms.”

Pow Wow recently won a number of customers, sealing deals to power instant messaging for AT&T WorldNet and the U.K’s Freeserve (FREEV). CMGI’s AltaVista unit will also license Tribal Voice technology for its own instant messaging client which is set to be unveiled in January.

Instant messaging has evolved into one of the hottest segments of the Internet industry. Earlier Wednesday, America Online Inc. (AOL) announced its ICQ service had lured $100 million in e-commerce pacts and passed 50 million users.

The emerging technology has also spawned new battles between staunch enemies. Throughout the year, AOL and Microsoft Corp., whose MSN Messenger product competes with ICQ, have gone back and forth blocking competing products from their networks, citing security concerns.

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