StarCite’s CEO Michael Boult and chairman John
StarCite Inc. and OnVantage
Inc., the leading providers of online meetings management
tools, on Aug. 9 announced plans to merge.
The new company, to carry the StarCite
name, will be headquartered in Philadelphia and will offer a suite
of tools and services aimed at managing organizations’ meeting
spend. The action was initiated by investors, which include
Internet Capital Group, Norwest Venture Partners, Texas Pacific
Group and TL Ventures.
“This space is growing up,” said
Michael Boult, president and CEO of StarCite, who will retain that
position for the new company. “With only about 3 percent of
meetings spending currently under management, this business is a
virtually untouched front.”
The agreement, which has been called
the meetings technology equivalent of Microsoft and Apple merging,
severely curtails competition in this arena. “There are really no
competitors remaining in the meetings consolidation space,” said
industry expert Corbin Ball of Bellingham, Wash.-based Corbin Ball
Associates. Only a few other services, he said, such as Arcaneo
Metron and eMeetingsOnline, offer some of the same features.
“There will be a void, and I hope to
see companies move in to fill that,” added Ball.
Still, he said the merger was a good
move: “StarCite has had the client force and OnVantage has had the
technology and capital. There’s the potential to combine industry
practices in a larger, more efficient package.”
Current clients will be able to use
either system through 2007, when StarCite’s Global Meeting Solution
will be phased out in favor of OnVantage’s suite.
“You can only have one platform,” said
Boult. “If we’d known we would be merging, we wouldn’t have spent
millions creating GMS, but it’s not a complete waste of time, money
and effort, as some elements will be kept.”
Boult’s OnVantage counterpart, John
Chang, will serve as the new company’s chairman, charged with
integrating the two systems. The terms of the merger were not
disclosed; the deal is expected to close by the end of 2006.
This is the coming together of five
companies through mergers and acquisitions: Star-Cite, PlanSoft,
B-there, SeeUthere and RegWeb.
“To serve this $300 billion
marketplace, to roll out products, you have to have more brainpower
and investors,” said Ed Tromczynski, president of OnVantage’s
supplier division. “To look at the company’s next step, we had to
be bigger and stronger.”