This story was written by Keith Dawson for the Industry Standard's Media Grok email newsletter. It is archived here for informational purposes only because The Standard's site is no more. This material is Copyright 1999-2001 by Standard Media.

Business-to-Business as Usual
May 23 2000 12:00 AM PDT

Another day, another pair of mergers. Business-to-business e-commerce is consolidating, and the media agree that there are many more deals to come.

B-to-b facilitator WebMethods plans to buy Active Software (ASWX), whose products help companies' internal systems work together, in a $1.3 billion stock swap. And Web personalizer Vignette (VIGN) plans to buy b-to-b integrator OnDisplay (ONDS) for $1.7 billion in stock.

Too bad both deals were unveiled on a day the Nasdaq sank; the value of the acquiring companies dropped 17 percent (WebMethods) and 20 percent (Vignette) on the announcements, though analysts agreed both deals made sense.

Many outlets wrapped the confusingly similar mergers into a single story. But the Washington Post assigned a staff reporter to cover WebMethods, which is headquartered in the paper's backyard, and ran a comprehensive Reuters piece on Vignette. The New York Times' Lawrence M. Fisher disentangled the two deals with Forrester Research (FORR) analyst Simon Yates. With this deal, he said, Vignette has "thrown down the gauntlet" to some bigger players, many of whom already have relationships with Active Software. These new competitors will now be working with WebMethods, thanks to the other merger. And Yates claims that WebMethods is stronger than Vignette's new partner, OnDisplay.

Writing in Sunday's San Jose Mercury News, Chris O'Brien painted the b-to-b landscape on a broad canvas, after introducing the subject with the almost obligatory acknowledgement of how boring it is but how important it will all be. - Keith Dawson

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