Commerce One, Microsoft to link global marketplaces

Business-to-business software vendor Commerce One Inc. plans to announce a partnership next week with Microsoft Corp. that includes joint development of Commerce One's online exchange software and a US$25 million loan from the Redmond, Washington-based software giant.

Commerce One will announce details of the deal at its eLink 2001 user conference in New Orleans beginning April 23, officials said Thursday during Commerce One's first-quarter earnings call.

Commerce One Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mark Hoffman referred briefly during the call to the partnership agreement, which he said includes joint engineering, sales and marketing of its online marketplaces. Hoffman said the two companies will develop Commerce One's B-to-B software to enable companies of all sizes to "quickly connect to the global trading Web and gain access to hundreds of electronic marketplaces."

Microsoft is one of the lead companies in the UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration) project, which aims to create a kind of electronic "Yellow Pages" for companies doing business over the Internet. Commerce One is also a participant in the project, though it wasn't immediately clear if Monday's deal will be linked to UDDI. [See "Online 'Yellow Pages' for business to launch next month," April 13.] Under terms of the agreement, Microsoft will provide a $25 million loan to fund the development of Commerce One's electronic marketplace software to integrate with Microsoft's .Net platform, according to Commerce One. .Net is Microsoft's broad, ongoing initiative to develop software and services for Web-based computing.

"The result, we believe, will be the acceleration of a critical mass of buyers and suppliers, increased liquidity and more rapid return on investments for all participants in our global ecosystems," Hoffman said during Thursday's call.

Commerce One's software customers include British Telecommunications PLC, Citibank, a subsidiary of Citigroup Inc., and a number of smaller industry-specific online exchanges.

In addition to its partnership with Microsoft, Commerce One has alliances with vendors including SAP AG, Sun Microsystems Inc., Intel Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp.

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