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... the editorial blog by Marydee Ojala, Editor of ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals. ONLINE Insider intends to extend the reach of the print publication, presenting a more timely commentary on the products, people, and events that shape today's online world. It explores new technologies as they impact the working lives of information professionals, explains resources for specific topic areas, and expounds on information management tools and techniques.

Say What?

Marydee Ojala @ 8:11 pm

With the announcement of Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo, the press seemed to come up with a generally recognized name for the newly merged company, should that ever actually happen — MicroHoo. A search on both Factiva and Nexis told me that there have been a couple of hundred uses of the term since that announcement. The reverse, YaSoft gleaned almost no hits. But think about potential other combinations:

NewsCorp buys Yahoo and names it NewsHoo. Or combines it with Dow Jones for DowHoo. Or with Factiva for FActHoo or HoosFacts?

Ok, maybe not.

But what if Thomson sells Dialog to NewsCorp, which combines it with Factiva. Then we might have DialFact or FactDial.

Or Yahoo actually is sold to an obscure Indiana company and becomes Yahoosier.

If any of this happens, I will be amazed.

Prous Sells to Thomson

Marydee Ojala @ 8:54 am

One more family business succumbs to the lure of Thomson, further consolidating information resources in the hands of large corporations. Barcelona, Spain-based Prous Science has had a tremendous reputation among pharmaceutical and health researchers. It’s been innovative (had a Web presence beginning in 1995) and fast to create new products and respond to customer needs. Now it will be part of Thomson Scientific, melded into its Pharma/Chem Markets division, joining Thomson Pharma, iDDb, Derwent World Patents Index, and Web of Science. Prous CEO J.R. Prous and EVP Josep Prous Jr. both have positive comments (and since they’re quoted in the Thomson press release, of course it’s positive), particularly about continued product development and innovation, and customers can only hope these sentiments will turn out to be true.

Prous hosts Webcasts and has produced Web sites for associations such as the American Diabetes Association. How will this fit into Thomson Scientific? With Prous headquarters remaining in Barcelona, how much influence will they wield in Philadelphia? Will Prous’ Integrity platform play well with other Thomson platforms?

With Thomson on the prowl for other acquisitions, Prous won’t be the last family (or even small) business to heed Thomson’s siren call. And there will be one more booth disappearing from information industry and library association conference exhibit halls.

Thomson & Reuters

Marydee Ojala @ 6:42 am

The Thomson Corporation is certainly busy on the M&A front these days. First they sell Profound, a product of the Thomson Business Inteligence unit that Thomson West plans to eliminate, to MarketResearch.com, which turns out to be small potatoes in the whole “deal” scheme of things. Next it sells Thomson Learning, a move it pre-announced its intent to do, to Apax and OMER. That looked like bigger potatoes at $7.75billion. But now the news of Thomson acquiring Reuters makes even that number look small. Try in the neighborhood of $17.2 billion.

The new company will be headed by Reuters CEO Tom Glocer. The piece that is now Thomson Financial will combine with Reuters and be renamed Reuters. That will certainly give Bloomberg and Dow Jones something to think about. The rest of Thomson (the part with tax, scientific, legal, and healthcare that sells Dialog, DataStar, Westlaw, Web of Science and other databased products to librarians) will become Thomson Reuters Professional. With luck, and I mean a lot of luck, the products vital to information professionals will be resuscitated and not allowed to wither on the vine, as some have been doing over the past few years. I wish I were more optimistic that this would happen. “Our” products are such a small piece of the overall product mix that we are the really small potatoes in this deal. We need to make sure we’re not the potatoes smashed in this merger process.

Thomson Learning Sale

Marydee Ojala @ 8:41 am

It was last Autumn when The Thomson Corporation announced its intention to divest itself of its Thomson Learning Division. The rumored asking price was $5 billion. Yesterday Thomson made it official that the buyer is equity fund Apax Partners and pension fund OMERS Capital Partners. Must have been a bidding war for Learning, proving it more valuable than Thomson thought, since the sale price is $7.75 billion. That’s quite a hefty premium and will no doubt bolster Thomson’s proposed acquisition of Reuters.

Thomson Learning has always struck me as a hodge podge of companies — it includes Wadsworth, Delmar Learning, Gale, Heinle, Brooks/Cole, South-Western, and Nelson Canada. If it were up to me, which it obviously isn’t, I’d probably split it up and sell off pieces. Gale could certainly be split up into the three entities that originally formed it. I’d sort of like to see IAC reconstituted as a pure database company. The Gale Directories could possibly be grouped with other book publishing pieces of the ex-Thomson Learning.

It’s too early to know the intentions of Apax and OMERS. The deal won’t close until the third quarter of 2007.

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