Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Verisign's Moreover Acquisition: Controlling More than Content Infrastructure

PaidContent.org has been on the trail of the acquisition of news aggregator Moreover for weeks now and comes through with a great interview summary of their conversations with VeriSign SVP and GM Mark McLaughlin and Jim Pitkow, formerly CEO of moreover and now reporting to McLaughlin as VP of Real-Time Publisher Services. In a nutshell, Verisign started making noises about real-time content on the Web early this year and began to roll out a strategy to build and acquire components to support it. Prior to the Moreover acquisition their little-noted acquisition of Weblogs.com signaled an effort to get into the stream of pingback messages indicating links to content, still more of an infrastructure play than a higher level strategy. But when you add Moreover's management of high-value news sources to some of the key services that Verisign offers - unified authentication, billing and payment services, commerce security, interoperability services - it's clear that the pieces are likely to add up at some point to a content ecommerce play at an infrastructure level that there's a very interesting suite being assembled here that's more than stray infrastructure bits. Verisign could use these and other pieces to develop high-value, high-update premium content channels that can be dropped easily on to any number of platforms via any number of networks, with or without premium subscription components.

Verisign has many technology bits well-embedded into the bowels of the Web that can surface in any number of public and enterprise network environments to facilitate access to this content - perhaps too many bits for people to get the picture right away, but we can expect that picture to change. The jury is still out whether Moreover will fit in to the Verisign portfolio from a focus perspective, but at minimum Verisign just made itself a much more attractive takeover candidate for potential suitors looking to have more least-common-denominator control of high-value Web content - suitors which could include jilted Moreover bidder Google.
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