Monday, 14 January 2008

Microsoft makes a bid for FAST

Yahoo! News reports that Microsoft has made a cash bid to buy the Norwegian enterprise search software company Fast Search And Transfer (FAST) for around US$1.2 billion. As a result, analysts and other search firms have reportedly said that enterprise search - search technology applications for business - has truly arrived as a software category. There is also a belief that further consolidation will probably occur in this sector over the coming months, creating opportunities for niche players.

FAST is apparently recommending to their shareholders that the sale proceeds and, if so, it is expected to be completed by the middle of the year. This is seen as a good move by Microsoft and also a bargain, since FAST has been struggling recently but has a huge amount of technological know-how since the days in the late 1990's when it was a respected search technology and engine (as AllTheWeb).

Overture purchased the search engine part of the business in 2003, just before Yahoo! acquired the Overture business, so that FAST's search engine technology became absorbed into Yahoo!'s own developments in that area. Since then FAST has been developing on its experience of search technology for business and has continued to be a respected player in this market, which has now resulted in Microsoft's approach.

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