News

Google acquires wiki company

Ryan Blitstein
San Jose Mercury News

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Google has acquired JotSpot, a Palo Alto, Calif., company that makes Web site pages called wikis, for an undisclosed amount, according to statements released Tuesday by both companies.

The purchase is further evidence of one of the Internet search giant's emerging strategies: helping people share information and media online.

"The more we saw Google betting on this space, the more excited we got about being a part of Google," said JotSpot co-founder and chief executive Joe Kraus.

Wikis are changeable Web pages on which many users can edit content, allowing people in different locations to easily collaborate on a page. They're among a host of social software and services, often described as "Web 2.0," that companies are offering to help consumers and businesses create and share data on the Web.

Microsoft and IBM have recently announced upcoming wiki offerings, and Yahoo has a partnership with San Bruno, Calif.-based PBwiki to host wikis for Yahoo Groups. Kraus said JotSpot spoke with several software and Internet companies before settling on a deal with Google.

"It's the greatest thing for us you can imagine," said Ross Mayfield, chief executive of Palo Alto-based wiki company SocialText. "Google acquired our most direct competitor -- that certainly brings validation to the market that we've been going after."

Earlier this month, Google bought video-sharing site YouTube for $1.65 billion. It also launched Google Docs & Spreadsheets, an online word processing and spreadsheet service that combined internal Google technology with that acquired in the March purchase of Writely, a Web-based word processor. The company's Google Apps for Your Domain, released in August, offers free services like e-mail and chat for small businesses.

Google would not comment about the strategy behind the JotSpot purchase, but the company could integrate wikis into a range of services, from word processing to e-mail.

"If in a wiki you can embed tools for communication and productivity, then you've got something special," said Allen Weiner, a Gartner research director. "It's the glue that holds everything together." Kraus and JotSpot chief technology officer Graham Spencer, the co-founders of once high-flying Web portal Excite, created JotSpot in 2004. The company raised $4.5 million from Redpoint Ventures and Mayfield Fund, two well-known venture capital firms.

About 2,000 companies, including eBay, Symantec and British Telecom, have been paying for JotSpot's wiki-hosting services. Hundreds of thousands of others inside and outside businesses also use the free version of the company's online software.

"Joining Google allows us to plug into the resources that only a company of Google's scale can offer, like a huge audience, access to world-class data centers and a team of incredibly smart people," Kraus wrote in a post on Google's blog.

Until JotSpot migrates its data to Google's systems, the company said it would not sign up any new users, though it will continue to host existing wikis at no charge. However, the company admitted it will no longer support the JotBox, a wiki appliance used by several of its big-business customers.

SocialText has already signed up a handful of these customers, and is offering a year of free services to others who make the switch. Fremont, Calif., content management software company eTouch Systems is also in talks with several companies who had been considering buying a JotBox.

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