Siebel Snaps Up Web-Auction Maker

SAN MATEO (04/18/2000) - In a bid to jumpstart its Web and e-commerce capabilities, Siebel Systems, a major player in CRM (customer relationship management), has acquired Web-auction site builder OpenSite Technologies Inc. for $444 million.

Siebel has taken over the software and services provider to help users do a better job of selling electronically, said Siebel officials. With OpenSite's software, users can build electronic, sell-side auction Web sites. Although there may be some slight overlap, Siebel can also offer buy-side services via its Ariba partnership, according to Siebel officials.

The unification of the two companies will allow Siebel to deliver e-commerce and OpenSite's dCommerce offerings for all customer channels, said Siebel officials. OpenSite's software and services include a collection of pricing options for such things as forward auctions, reverse auctions (procurement), auction networks, cross-auction portals, and exchanges.

The acquisition will help Siebel move to the Web, said Karen Smith, an analyst at Aberdeen Group, a market research company in Boston. "Siebel really needs to move to the Web," Smith said, who added that the acquisition is likely to accelerate this transition. Siebel also needs to add e-commerce capabilities to its offerings as well as to provide fully integrated solutions such as e-commerce platforms that are connected into back-end ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems, she said.

For the e-commerce arena, OpenSite's promise reduced order-processing costs, new sales channels, inventory management, and avenues for attracting new customers and for cross selling.

OpenSite's customers include VerticalNet Inc., CNET Inc., John Deere, Sharper Image, PNC Bank (also a Siebel customer), and QVC Inc.

The OpenSite headquarters will remain in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina and will operate under the Siebel Systems' banner. Kip A. Frey, the current OpenSite CEO, will leave that concern to become the vice president and general manager of the Siebel Systems dCommerce unit, reporting to Andrew Zoldan, vice president of dot-com applications.

The agreement, hammered out over the past two months, specifies that each outstanding share of OpenSite common stock will be exchanged at a fixed ratio of approximately $0.13 for newly issued shares of common stock of Siebel Systems, according to Siebel officials. The outstanding stock options of OpenSite, which had $8 million in revenues last year, will be exchanged for Siebel stock options at the same exchange ratio. Stock values have been calculated according to the closing price of Siebel stock on April 17.

The transaction is expected to close during the current quarter.

Siebel Systems Inc., in San Mateo, California, is at www.siebel.com. OpenSite Technologies Inc., in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, is at www.opensite.com.

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