Francisco Partners, the company that bought Ex Libris Corporation this year, has announced that it will also purchase Endeavor Information Systems from Reed Elsevier. The two companies will be merged and run under the Ex Libris name and senior management, led by Matti Shem Tov.
In a press release issued today (pdf), Shem Tov states, “Leveraging the extensive experience and technologies as well as the dedicated, skilled staff of both companies, we will now be even better equipped to provide our customers with next-generation library products. We welcome Endeavor’s customers to the Ex Libris community and, with this important acquisition, look forward to delivering significant value for our combined customer base.” Herman van Campenhout, CEO, Elsevier Science & Technology, adds, “The decision to seek a new owner for the Endeavor business was made after we carefully considered the rapid pace of change in the library software and services marketplace. Based on that review, we concluded that Endeavor, its employees, and its customers will greatly benefit from becoming part of a company, such as Ex Libris, that is solely focused on leading the library software market.”
With a combined install base of over 2,200 libraries, the merged company will still be second in size to (the also recently combined) SirsiDynix, but a closer second; Innovative Interfaces now takes a more distant third position in the academic, public, and special library automation sector. Financial details of the merger have not been made public at this time.
Close industry followers are not entirely surprised by the move that comes in a climate of ILS vendor consolidation. Marked by new outside industry investment and pursuit of larger market share and established customer bases, these moves will most certainly give surer footing to the companies that come out on top of the mergers.
Endeavor has been undergoing many management and product changes in the last few months. Some of these changes were indicative of a company cutting costs in an effort to sell. Still other efforts–for example the development of repository software and the co-development with Elsevier of Journals Onsite–appear to be ones on which Ex Libris will clearly capitalize.
SFX, MetaLib, and Verde are also clear winners over Endeavor’s efforts in the reference linking, metasearching, and ERM realms. I would not expect Meridian, Discovery: Finder, and Discovery: Resolver to be long for this world. The real question will be determining what becomes of Endeavor’s flagship product, Voyager–a system that made its debut in the 1990s and became a change-agent for the industry as it moved from character-based dumb terminal systems to relational databases, graphical interfaces, and the Web. The employee-owned company was sold to Elsevier in 2000 and ultimately led by Roland Dietz, who came from Elsevier as one of the lead business architects of the firm’s electronic product suite. New versions of both Aleph and Voyager are planned for 2007.
What’s next? Who’s next? As I have said before, the name of the game is still consolidation; the fun of the game is in the guessing; the challenge of the game is determining what it all means for your library.
[This post originally appeared as part of American Libraries’ Hectic Pace Blog and is archived here.]