Nortel Acquires DiamondWare

Got another acquisition story to tell you about, and one that I'm really glad to share on a few fronts. This morning, Nortel announced its acquisition of DiamondWare, one of those really cool, stealth-type companies most people have never heard about. Most - but not all. They were nice enough to cite me in the press release, and it probably helped that I'm one of those few people who have heard about DiamondWare.

This story has been a long time in the making, and I'm pretty certain that I'm the only industry analyst who has had direct exposure to both DiamondWare and Nortel's web.alive collaboration initiative. I'm not going to rehash the details, but you can read more about DiamondWare in my post from early last year, and Web.Alive in my post from May summarizing the highlights of an analyst/media day that Nortel hosted in Ottawa.

If you read these posts, you'll see that based on my experiences with both companies why this deal makes so much sense. It's great validation for DiamondWare, who cut its teeth on leading edge work for the US military, some of which has found commercial use in Second Life as well as most of the major gaming platforms. In my mind, if you can master these environments, enterprise applications should be relatively easy.

For Nortel, this is very nice evidence of the "new Nortel", and is the kind of acquisition that can return them to the forefront of innovation. In financial terms, it's a small deal - $7 million cash and up to $3 million for performance - but in technology value, it's much bigger. The traditional voice business is tough going for anyone battling Cisco, Avaya, etc. head-on, where margins are getting smaller and the number of competitors keeps growing. With web.alive and Project Chainsaw, Nortel is pushing the boundaries and by locking up great technology like DiamondWare, I think they've got a prime opportunity to define Communications 3.0 for the business market.

I'd say chalk one up in the win column for Nortel, and congrats to Keith Weiner and the DiamondWare team who have labored obscurely out in the desert - literally - Arizona - and now have a place to really shine.

As a footnote, to learn more about Project Chainsaw, you should check out their blog, which officially launched today.

On a personal note, I'd like to close by saying it's been a good week for acquisitions I've had some connection to. In addition to this story, on Tuesday I posted about another company I was involved with looking for an exit - Micromethod, who was just acquired by Voxeo. Not sure who's next, but when things happen, I'll be sure to let you know.

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